Reading Blog 7 – September 28, 2015

“Identity Crisis” (p. 99-111) by Sherry Turkle and “Call Me Cyberboy” (p. 112-116) by Douglas Rushkoff from “The Digital Divide: Arguments for and Against Facebook, Google, Texting, and the Age of Social Networking.”

The two articles this week focuses mostly on the community that comes with using the internet. In her essay, Sherry Turkle talks more about the psychological effects of using the internet. Turkle suggests that online, people have different facets of their personality, which manifests itself when they participate in multiuser domains. She claims that there isn’t unity in a personality. In her opinion, we can’t claim one aspect of our personality to be our one true self. In reality, we all have different parts to our personality, different masks we put on for certain situations. When we are online, these personalities come out and we get to participate in a personality that could completely differ from the one that we have in real life. When we’re online, we have different personalities for certain times, and none of them are necessarily wrong. Turkle suggests that we live in an age where constructing and reconstructing your image is normal, and that we can choose who we want to be in certain situations online. These various virtual personae, she says, can be used as learning tools to study the effects of technology on human behavior.

Furthermore, Rushkoff’s essay talks about his online community and how he was able to find a solid group of people online who accepted him for who he was. No matter how weird or twisted they were, he talked about how the online community helped him find a home in these people. Rushkoff goes on to say how the online community has been taken over by businesses. The internet has been commercialized, and now everyone is trying to offer you something new. According to him, cyberculture has changed drastically since his beginnings on the internet, and one day, people will have access to better technology in which they will allow their users to create an online world that suits them.

Links:

  1. “Multiple Personalities And Social Media: The Many Faces of Me”  http://www.forbes.com/sites/meghancasserly/2011/01/26/multiple-personalities-and-social-media-the-many-faces-of-me/ – This article talks about the principle that Sherry Turkle talks about in her essay. It talks about how people maintain different online personas. An example that she gives is that people have personal and professional online personas.
  2. “Save the Pseudonyms: Why Having Multiple Online Personalities Is Not A Disorder” http://www.digitaltrends.com/opinion/save-the-pseudonyms-why-having-multiple-online-personalities-is-not-a-disorder/ – This article talks about the idea of how one unified personality isn’t necessarily our true self, just as Turkle suggests. The author talks about how we interact differently with each person in real life and online, so it isn’t a surprise that people would have multiple online personas.
  3. “Catfish and the Perils of Online Dating” https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/millennial-media/201212/catfish-and-the-perils-online-dating – This article is about an issue that I’m concerned with in terms of the argument that Sherry Turkle presents. ‘Catfishing’ has been a recent online problem in which people pretend to be someone they are not online, and they go out and date people with this fake online profile. If Turkle’s argument holds up, then this phenomena would be justified, regardless of the fact that it’s messing with the emotional health of people. I think it’s a topic worth talking about in class.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How can we make sure that having different virtual personae does not cross the line between playing a role and committing fraud?
  2. Doesn’t the commercialization of the internet help our country’s economy? Why does Rushkoff view this as a bad thing?
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