The Social Uncanny describes the narcissistic void of social technology that reflects us back to ourselves, familiar yet strange. It is the rush we feel at the sight of ourselves in recursion throughout the eternal reflected worlds of social media. Like mirrors facing each other in perfect parallel, each online profile generates a new subset, a new reflection, more distorted than the last, until our faces are shapeless blurs spiralling off into the Nth dimension.
The Social Uncanny is also our disgust at the sight of those multiplying nested images which we are now unable to control or cull. We delete one profile only to find another that has slipped the noose, gone missing in the wild before returning to public life with wildly inappropriate personal information broadcast to the world at the times we never want it to. The return of the repressed: everything you say or do online archived forever, even the ultra embarrassing stuff from your early digital life, stored somewhere where you’ll never get to it even if you wanted to hide it from someone. Backups, caches and archives working silently in the background to ensure you can never hunt down and kill the original (a term now meaningless), never completely eliminate your shame.
The Social Uncanny infests a new Twitter app, LivesOn. This app, which is really a bot automagically “powered by algorithims”, analyses your online habits and learns your tweeting “voice”. Assign it certain rights and when you die it keeps tweeting for you – as you – forever.
“Had me this buddy in the Russian camp, Siberia, his thumb was frostbit. Medics came by and they cut it off. Month later he’s tossin; all night. Elroy, I said, what’s eatin’ you? Goddam thumb’s itchin’, he says. So I told him, scratch it. McCoy, he says, it’s the other goddam thumb.” When the construct laughed, it came through as something else, not laughter, but a stab of cold down Case’s spine. “Do me a favor, boy.”
“What’s that, Dix?”
“This scam of yours, when it’s over, you erase this goddam thing.”