Social media are performative spaces – even when you’re torturing your kids

Social media are performative spaces in which people try — and succeed — to project images of themselves as they want to be seen by others. We also see this in schools and even elite universities — where students are reluctant to meet face-to-face with their tutors. They want to communicate via electronic messaging — email, WhatsApp, FB Messenger, whatever. Why? Because they are scared of F2F encounters which will reveal their doubts, insecurities, failings, ignorance. Instead they want always to project their ‘edited selves’.

None of this is new. What is really extraordinary, though, about the case of the Californian parents who imprisoned their 13 children (and shackled three of them to furniture) is that they managed to project happy-clappy images of their family on social media.