One operates in the form of second-order observation as soon as one does not directly observe something, but observes it as it is observed by someone else.
Social media have taken on the shape of a sort of ‘peer review system’ of private life.
When one’s social life is performed on Facebook or Twitter, it becomes clear that modern forms of intimacy are tied to mechanisms of establishing the value of one’s relationships by observing how one is observed by one’s peers.
The modern model of personal relationships applies a second-order observation structure: intimacy, as the construction of recognition, is an effect of being able to see that one is seen in a way one likes to be seen. Highly organized second-order observation intimacy markets in the form of the new social media fulfil precisely this function: they enable individuals on a massive scale to observe how they are observed and, on the basis of this kind of recognition, to establish a real personal life.
A unique sight one desires to experience ‘first-hand’ is created through its depiction. Once one repeats the experience of seeing it personally, however, one necessarily does so in the mode of second-order observation. The very fact that it is a sight implies that is was seen as one by others.
To demand of individuals to be original and pursue authenticity creates a paradoxical double-bind, just like the demand to ‘be natural’. By following it one violates it as much as by not following it.