In the selection we read from Sherry Turkle, she theorizes about the post-modern split of the self that takes place online and with user generated computer content. I agree that there is a break down between the “in real life” and life online (facebook and youtube, not just role playing games), but my question is whether we had an undivided self to begin with. Technology and the post-modern only facilitate the ability to think of the “self” as multifaceted and performatory. I am simultaneously a student and a teacher, someone who loves Harry Potter and Shakespeare, shy and assertive, etc. Of course I act differently when I’m with my grandparents than with my best friend. Shifts in identity or self construction aren’t merely property of virtual worlds, and for that matter, there are plenty of people who (mis)represent themselves in the real world. There are also plenty of people who mediate themselves in the real world (alcohol or drug use to ease social situations) as well. While I am undoubtedly influenced by my post-modernist leanings, I don’t think it’s bad to have multiple selves.
Another question related to this online/IRL discussion by Turkle, is why do people prefer online to real life in the first place? Is it possible that we are no longer connecting to other in traditional communal patterns as a result of the industrialized/post-industrialized society we live in, and therefore have to create online social substitutes to what our ancestors had in real life? Perhaps alienation? Has specialization turned us into the machine, just as Marx theorized?
For those interested in technobodies:[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RB_l7SY_ngI[/youtube]