The Camera Effect in Facebook: Tayeb Jaaba and Marwen Belhaj as Examples

Listen to Mr Mackey, mmkay?

People are always aware of the camera effect on them. No one is ever who they truly are whenever they interact with others whether in real life or on social networks. They always try to pull-off an image of themselves which will satisfy them even when their own satisfaction is never fulfilled till the “other” is satisfied about them. They will try to promote an image of themselves that matches the cultural context according to which rules this person is supposed to live.

The real life and the virtual one share almost the same set of societal rules. The first thing you do when you create a Facebook account is adding family, friends and acquaintances, then, friends of friends. The environment is pretty much the same. Those people will expect you to be sharing posts and adding comments which match their mindset which is determined by the context (culture, customs, religion, etc). When this person ignores the camera effect and publishes something that might shock their followers, their e-reputation will be distorted.

Take the case of famous Tunisian fake profiles as a for-instance; Think of Tayeb Jaaba and Marwen Belhaj.

These two persons made use of fake names to escape the camera effect and express themselves freely without having any of the things they share associated with their real-life persons. It is not about them being themselves on social media but also about their followers feeling more comfortable pressing “like” on posts published by anonymous people than by people with a real name and profile picture. One of the reasons for that is that the followers tend to relate the post to the image they have built in their minds of the person posting it. But when it comes to a fake profile, it is hard to frame the person behind it. Therefore, the followers would “like” the posts they do like and ignore the rest without building any hard feelings towards the fake profiles because after all they are partially fictional to them. Here, the focus is diverted from the producer of this type of virtual social media discourse to the discourse itself. A lot of variables might be attached to the phenomenon of two different persons sharing the same post and only one of them getting the most attention; however, two major variables are related to the attitudes of the followers towards the person who shared the post and these two persons’ followership which is determined by previous hit posts which have possibly went viral on the internet on prior occasions.

This is to show how society has been teaching us how to not be ourselves and not to be spontaneous or else your face will be stained and your reputation will go downhill. You express your mind differently about one thing and others will interpret it according to their own understanding without putting into consideration the existent gap between what we say, what we mean and what others understand. Then, they take liberty to draw a whole image of you depending on that one standpoint you once took towards a certain topic; and, from then on, they treat you based on that image which does not necessarily represent you. The fake accounts in Tunisia have not come into existent for fear of censorship from the government but from the “other” in general. The other might be random people who merely disagree with you, your neighbors, your classmates or even your own family and friends. Apparently being judged and harassed by them is more dangerous than being arrested by the police for an article you published or an opinion you shared. When you get arrested by the police for practicing freedom of speech, you might be seen as a victim by some people sharing a certain status; but, when you go against the grain, society will indulge you with a lifetime detention without trial.


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