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Moroccan Youth Identity Construction and Facebook as a Virtual Third Space

Source : | 4 June 2012 |  News, Technology | 9825 views
 Mohamed El Aazouzi

Morocco World News

Taroudant, Morocco, June 2, 2012

The issue of identity (or selfhood) construction has always proved to be a very significant issue among different social scientists and fields such as sociology, psychoanalysis and anthropology. In this analysis, I shall focus on the contribution psychoanalysis, an interdisciplinary field of inquiries, has in dismantling and unveiling the process through which our identity (or selfhood) is shaped.

Facebook as a social network plays a significant role in this process under scrutiny. Therefore, the question that should be raised is the following: what is/are the impact(s) of this social network, besides others like Twitter, on the (Arab) Moroccan youth?

It is very well known among many psychoanalysts that our selfhood/ identity construction is an ongoing interactive –non-stop –dynamic process. It is as problematic as it is contradictory. It, thus, replaces the negation of the other by a process of negotiation. That is to say, this constructive process involves problematising the concept of the “Other” –the notion ‘other’ here refers to any outsider (such as ideology, discourse or person.)

Facebook, then, as a third space which celebrates this problematic relationship between the self and other, can be seen as a terrain in which the (Arab) Moroccan youth identity is constructed and energized. Drawing on a psychoanalytic perspective, we can say that the other, does not only reflect the self, but also it celebrates certain differing characteristics that play a major role in our identity construction –such as ethnicity, race, gender and class.

Facebook, as a clear manifestation of the recurrent intervention of the very ‘Other’ in our inner-personal life, is deemed to function both ways (positively and negatively). It functions as a threat to the individual deep psychic structure as well as a source of measures and techniques of self-development. Nevertheless, nobody can deny the role of Facebook in spreading a kind of collective, political consciousness. In this vein, it suffices to mention the Tunisian, Egyptian and Libyan revolutions as reactions to the stretch of a collective awareness between the Arab youth.

Facebook, by and large, is a social virtual space that hides more than what it reveals. In so doing, ‘facebooking the self’ is an attempt to transcend the very self in a quest for a ‘world identity’ –or rather a global identity. It is a double-edged weapon. As far it brings the whole world within reach of the reader, it widens the gap between the ‘facebooker’ (user or consumer) and one’s immediate societal environment.

By and large, the main concern here is not to show people what to do and undo, but rather, it aims at invoking the consciousness/knowledge of the know-how not the know- what.

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