chapter  5
You have been tagged
Magical incantations, digital incarnations and extended selves 1
ByPaul Frosh
Pages 20

This chapter offers some preliminary theoretical propositions on the existential condition of being tagged in photographs uploaded to social media platforms. It argues that social tagging is a contemporary intensification of long-standing procedures for maintaining our being in the world: the naming of persons and the figural incarnation of bodies. It is a contemporary intensification of these human practices which instantiate, replicate and disseminate the embodied subject discursively and visually. However, tagging is also an operative and generative procedure: when you tag someone, your contacts and theirs are notified, and the tagged photograph is frequently replicated in contacts’ various feeds. Tagging is therefore a computationally-realized magical incantation, where uttering the name instantly multiplies body-images of the named. By alerting our contacts about our being tagged, tagging becomes a recurrent rite of naming and incarnation that invites confirmation and assent (likes, comments). It is thus a way of performing phatic sociability through the ‘selving’ of others – by virtue of their named body-images – usually without their prior permission. Finally, tagging puts visual ‘flesh’ onto the informational and computational –bones’ underpinning the network apparatus. It materializes and animates the social network platform as a connective social body that is populated through the continual proliferation, identification and confirmation of the named body-images of its constituent members. It thus produces a powerful poetic-ideological effect: the palpability of the apparatus as a sensuously inhabited world.