Living in the “Physical Real”… Or not

Response to Turkle’s Alone Together, Chapters 8-10:

Of all the reading I am doing for my graduate studies, and trust me, that’s a lot of reading, Alone Together is the most interesting and engaging. Turkle uses anecdotes of individuals she interviewed in order to illustrate particular concepts about new media and culture. For me, what makes this book fantastic, and thusly, helpful on my journey to learn new media, is that I can put myself in the shoes of those described in the book. I understand what they are going through and I get why they do what they do.

One particular story stood out to me. In chapter 8, Turkle designates a segment called, “The New State of Self: From Life to Life Mix.”

It is not uncommon for people who spend a lot of time on Second Life and role-playing games to say that their online identities make them feel more like themselves than they do in the physical real. This is play certainly, but it is serious play.

Turkle describes Pete a man who has a wife and children in the “physical real” and another wife in the game Second Life. Yep, you read it correctly… Two. Wives. Pete calls it his “life mix.” The idea that he can have multiple lives, a new one in every internet realm, gives him an opportunity to make his physical real self better because he can construct it from pieces of his other selves. Turkle says,

We have gone from multitasking to multi-lifing.

His story is fascinating and although I think it’s very very wrong, I totally understand. The Internet provides this whole realm where you can be whomever you want. You can experience a completely different set of environments because through the Internet you are someone else. Someone who is not beautiful, can be. Those who lack courage, are emboldened.

Later, Chapter 9, Turkle addresses what she calls, “presentation anxiety.” She talks to high school and college students who antagonize over what information should and should not become part of the online image. Every social media network requires us to create a profile. These profiles need to be constantly updated and for some this is a strenuous exercise. It reminded me of a meme I came across on Facebook a while ago (shown below).

Why are we so concerned with our online "image?" Why do we worry about how it compares to others?

Why are we so concerned with our online “image?” Why do we worry about how it compares to others?

The quote above is a great summation. Online profiles are highlight reels. We only include the most flattering pictures, the most exciting vacations, the most dynamic tidbits of our lives. Every element is hand picked by us in order to present our best selves. For some reason, we don’t take those same factors into account when we view the profiles of others. To us, those people are that interesting naturally. We can’t imagine [insert perfect person you know, love, but secretly envy] taking 50 pictures and only using 1 the way we do. But the truth is that’s exactly what [insert same person from above] does.

To be yourself to great but to be someone else is altoegther greater.

The Key to this is Diversity: Digital Humanities

Today was the first day of a new quarter at DePaul for me. I’m taking two electives, both centered on digital humanities, one in theory (pray for me) and one in practice. I’ll post a lot about it for at least the next 10 weeks [fair warning].

I didn’t even know what digital humanities was when I registered for these courses, but I have used my time at DePaul to try to gain as many new skills as possible. See my design struggles. My interest in libraries and library science and other social sciences in general lead me to digital humanities.

I’ve since done some reading and learned that digital humanities is the study of the integration of digital tools into the humanities [I think]. How humanities professional use digital tools in order to research, collaborate, and publish. All I could think was… so COOL! I knew I was attracted to this course for a reason.

In a way, digital humanities is sort of subcategory to new media studies, which is just the study of the integration of digital tools into society as a whole. Not a far throw from the stuff I study regularly, so after a lot of initial trepidation, I’m ready to jump in head first.

The other thing I love about digital humanities is its interdisciplinary nature. I hate working and studying in homogeneous groups. That is boring! I expect that these classes will allow me to meet and share scholarship with students from all around the humanities. That makes for great discussions and debates and that is the key to this.

Media in Media Series

I’ve noticed that my posts about new media and popular culture receive a lot of attention and interaction. I’m going to keep the posts on this theme coming regularly. Below are the links to the other posts in this “series,” yeah, that’s what I’m going to call it: the Media in Media series.

Some of my other Media in Media Series posts:

Mockingjay Part I post

Super Sad True Love Story post

Big Bang Theory post

You can also find the collection of them by clicking the pop culture category below, in case I missed some, which I’m sure I have. I just posted one (with a poll *hint, hint*) and I’m working on a great one with the show Bones, on Fox and it’s got a feminism twist too!

Movies and New Media: Mockingjay Part I [Spoiler Free!]

I fell in love with The Hunger Games much later the most people. I believe that you can only be a fan of one Sci-fi/ fantasy series. Mine is Harry Potter, so I had a hard time even accepting that I liked the Hunger Games, but I did. I’ve only read Mockingjay and that’s because I couldn’t bear to wait for the movies to learn what happens. I’ve now seen all three movies.

Needless to say, they’re great. Jennifer Lawrence is amazing. It was wonderful to see Phillip Seymour Hoffman, to whom the movie is dedicated, one last time. I have some complaints, but that’s a different post.

I did notice something. When discussing new media in pop culture, the best place to see it are in movies. One of the huge debates among new media theorists, is that all new media developments are not good. Humanity should be wary of just developing new media without questioning the complete range of potential am uses.

If there was ever an example of new media used for bad, it is in The Hunger Games series.

Those animal creations we see in the arena, i.e. tracker jackets, the communication/surveillance devices, the weaponry used by the Capitol and the Revolution, are all prime examples.

Watching the movies just reminded me of reading Evgeny Morozov’s theory of technical solutionism. Just because we are able to make some technologies doesn’t mean we should make those technologies. We shouldn’t see every advance as beneficial to humanity. It may not be, but we can always hope that the odds are ever in our favor.

For more work by Evgeny Morovoz see the video of his talk for The Gaudian. You can also follow him on Twitter @EvgenyMorovoz