Intro - “Today abstraction is no longer that of the map, the double, the mirror, or the concept. Simulation is no longer that of a territory, a referential being, or a substance. It is the generation by models of a real without origin or reality: a hyperreal. The territory no longer precedes the map, nor does it survive it. It is nevertheless the map that precedes the territory - precession of simulacra - that engenders the territory, and if one must return to the fable, today it is the territory whose shreds slowly rot across the extent of the map. It is the real, and not the map, whose vestiges persist here and there in the deserts that are no longer those of the Empire, but ours. The desert of the real itself.”
Baudrillard on god:
“To this murderous power is opposed that of representations as a dialectical power, the visible and intelligible mediation of the Real. All Western faith and good faith became engaged in this wager on representation: that a sign could refer to the depth of meaning, that a sign could be exchanged for meaning and that something could guarantee this exchange - God of course. But what if God himself can be simulated, that is to say can be reduced to the signs that constitute faith? Then the whole system becomes weightless, it is no longer itself anything but a gigantic simulacrum - not unreal, but a simulacrum, that is to say never exchanged for the real, but exchanged for itself, in an uninterrupted circuit without reference or circumference.”
Post Covid societal shift..?
“Thesis” on social media:
Social Media: The Simulacra of Identity
The progression from a symbols real to pure simulacrum can be identified by four key phases.
Phase 1 - Initially the symbol can be identified as the reflection of a profound reality.
The 21st century has witnessed an unparalled shift in the core of human existence due to the DARPA project which evolved into behemoth we now know as the internet. In its initial stages the internet was simply a medium which tech savy individuals utilized to communicate with like minded individuals over massive distances. These individuals would commonly communicate under psuedonyms with no ties to their real identity. This phase of the internet could never last as companies realized they could utilize it to advertise themselves by creating websites and even create platforms the common person could utilize to communicate. As computer hardware started to become more accessible, a plethora of households began to get access to the internet. Inevitably the ability to communicate with friends and family from anywhere led to the adoption of social media usage which I argue is directly responsible for this ontological shift. The privacy intertwined with our personal lives slowly began to disappear as people began posting their every thought on various social media platforms. Naturally, relationships of all forms began to change as well. While friendships could be formed with anyone around the world, they could also be destroyed because of information arbitrarily viewed online. Romantic relationships shared the same fate as relationships were no longer just a private bond between two parties, but rather open to the world to witness through relationship “statuses”, “posts”, and later “stories” about what the couple may have been upto. The adoption of social media platforms such as myspace laid the foundation for Facebook learn from their mistakes and eventually take over the social media market as the primary platfom.
The rise of Facebook is what I argue truly marked the transition to a world characterized by a “Simulacra of Friendship”. Posting highlights from our lives created a simulacra of our life for anyone and everyone to see. Our lives were still known to others through whatever information we chose to share, but that information was only accessible to those we chose to personally share it with. Friendships weren’t commonly characterized by clicking the “Add Friend” button on a profile after meeting someone a single time and then potentially messaging them. They could only exist if both parties were willing to meet and build that friendship. Popularity was meaningless and could never be quantified so simply by the number of friends that Facebook showed they had (I am not making an argument about the concept’s current meaning or meaninglessness). Without social media, a simulacrum of one’s identity could only be constructed locally, and they could never be weaponized.
Mark Zuckerberg understood that the widespread adoption of Facebook meant that the platform would have to mask and denature the very reality that we once had total control over, thus paving way into the second phase of the symbol of personal identity.
it masks the absence of a profound reality; it has no relation to any reality whatsoever; it is its own pure simulacrum.