Facebook for Facebook's Sake

An Aesthetic Usage

  • Kevin Jacobs University of Toronto


The affective labour debate has become mainstream in communications studies. In this paper, I The affective labour debate has become mainstream in communications studies. In this paper, I suggest the Aesthetic Movement of the late 19th century as inspiration for how users can use Facebook with the knowledge that their data is being used for profit. I present Facebook usage as art, creating an analog with aesthete Oscar Wilde’s essay, “the critic as artist” (1891/2010), where he presents critics as artists. Other theorists, especially Walter Benjamin provide grounding for making the argument that Facebook usage is an artistic expression. I then turn to my inversion of Walter Pater’s “art for art’s sake”, the seminal idea of Aestheticism and propose Facebook for Facebook’s sake as a method for Facebook use. While more advanced remuneration concepts have yet to arrive with such force that they could provide the proper payment to users, Facebook for its own sake is a way to appreciate Facebook’s beauty in the meantime. Baudelaire and Debord’s psychogeographic theories provide methods for navigating cities that I apply to examine Facebook as a digital city. The central claim of this paper is the following: By using Facebook for Facebook’s sake, users take back some of the dignity taken away from them in the exploitation of free labour. Finally, I turn to critiques of Aestheticism and how contemporary software might provide insight into using Facebook in an ethical manner. Users will have to consider each action differently; how would liking something affect users’ artistic expression of themselves? In this way, while the affective labour debate continues, users can use Facebook for its own sake.

Author Biography

Kevin Jacobs, University of Toronto

Kevin Jacobs is in the final year of his Master of Information at the University of Toronto. After graduating with a BA in English literature from Western University, he saw a world profoundly affected by exponential technological growth and went to U of T to research said technological world. He spends his time prototyping, reading, or performing improv.

How to Cite
Jacobs, K. (2018). Facebook for Facebook’s Sake. Stream: Interdisciplinary Journal of Communication, 10(1), 26-38. Retrieved from https://journals.sfu.ca/stream/index.php/stream/article/view/250