My mom lives in a four-storey building where all the neighbours know each other. For a year or so they have also known me – the girl who often stops between the second and the third floor, sunk deep into another reality through a typical realia of our age – a smartphone screen.
Living intertextuality: stories, shrunk in a 4.5-inch screen
Here I am, between floors, in an intertextual relation with the many macro- and micro- networks that constitute my own context.
Each time I go to check whether there’s something interesting going on around the portion of the world that I’ve let into my space, my stories, shrunk in a 4.5-inch screen, often become part of the story of a neighbour, who passes by, and in turn shrinks the universe of connections I make online into one, saying, “Yeah, I know, I know, there’s internet connection here…”
Is this story of mine a case of disconnectedness, or rather of hyperconnectivity?
It’s neither. It is what it is – just another thread in the narrative, a metaexistence created by and in turn creating interwoven coexisting realities. Another layer in the amalgam of existences, experiences and … texts.
Social presence as a textual existence
The digital era and machines allow us to collect, read, expand, interpret, and analyze a huge amount of texts (messages), something which was to an extent anticipated but never before experienced in real life, everyday.
Through this written communication we as social objects enter countless contexts thus becoming a context ourselves. In other words, neverending stories, grow fractally. And what is more intriguing, their existence is being entirely logged, archived and digitized. Could that be Borges’ “The Library of Babel” that exists ab aeterno? Maybe.
If we leave this metaphysical watchtower though and stop trying to perceive the unperceivable, we’ll see that practically social presence is an effort of many individuals to connect (more often than not via written interaction), forming new narratives and in the same time sustaining and nourishing old ones through mindful co-existence and co-creation.
Social presence as a means to choose ourselves
Social presence also gives us the opportunity to express ourselves freely, to be different in the most possibly respectful way, to tell our story, to become part of other people’s stories. And by doing so we don’y have to necessarily judge, ignore, or deny Otherness, we just incorporate it in our narratives, at the same time becoming ourselves part of this same Otherness’ story.
We are intertextual beings
I fervently believe we are symbolic and semantic creatures. We use signs and substitutes to help us jump easier between perspectives concepts and theories. One of our major vehicles to transfer meaning and insights through time and space is the text in its multiple variations. And if it is through language that we go beyond, it is through social presence that we create a culture of beyondness to keep and nurture our attempts to accept that “ future societies will emerge somewhere between a greasy spoon and there is no spoon” (cit. John Kellden)
The precious dialogue of the intertextual beings
The beauty of the living intertextuality lies in the many levels the new social dialogues are being held on. Levels formed by multiple, multi-faceted bits which everyone is welcome to mould into understanding. Thus the threat of one monopolistic truth is escaped and the possible answers and solutions to any given problem are endless, dynamic. In a way social presence protects us from the delusion that there could be only one answer, only one truth. It gives us something very special – choice.
It’s only through the multiple iterative exchange of different views and combinations of truths that any meaning can be conceived. As meaning is always outside, dancing with every participant in a conversation for a while and then changing places unexpectedly. It’s always somewhere within the organics of silence, in-between perspectives.
That said, our constant connectivity and dialogue are the guardians of our true understanding(s).