About User

User has been developed through a new writers’ mentoring programme called Gold Dust and supported by Arts Council East. The story was originally inspired by a newspaper article the author read in the summer of 2006. Death on MySpace reported on the phenomenal online memorial and mourning outpourings following the tragic murder of teenager Anna Sverdsky. At the time the author was not participating in social media culture and the phenomenon struck me as both as surprising and yet familiar. We’d seen these mass outpourings of grief before consider the death of Lady Diana. xx working for government think tank Civitas even published a slim volume on the subject describing the phenomenon as a new development in British culture one for which he coined the term conspicuous compassion. Conspicuous compassion was certainly what was happening in the Anna Sverdsky case but with two important differences: new technology and no one had even heard of Anna S until her death. She only achieved her celebrity status upon being tragically randomly murdered, before that she was known only to a family and friends in the small northern American town where she was born and lived.  The fact that Anna S’s murderer escaped only added to the sense of seeming arbitrariness with which Big Events on the Internet seemed to gain momentum. The author has been unable to find any further information as to whether he was ever captured.

[read the article here http://www.]

User is in part a response to the phenomenon of online memorials and how users connect with the loss of people they never knew in life. What is it that makes us want to connect with these loses so affectedly? It is also, more generally, an exploration of the way social media has impacted our lives, the way our social network stories are constructed by us and in turn construct us. It examines some of the consequences of our online digital identities and asks how as we increasingly define ourselves as users [of services, computers, networks, people] what consequences may there be for our perceptions of self, interactions with other individuals and our participation in society.


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