Lately I have been on a Facebook and Instagram budget.
Lately I have been on a psychological patch, one that helps me reduce the obsessive compulsive attempts to update my feed or post a new photo of the day. And I think I have been making great progress.
Which brings me to the discussion of my response to psychologist Sherry Turkle’s view on the ‘self as we want it to be.’ In some ways I agree with her stance on the idea of the “Second Self,” but I feel that there is a sense that we won’t be able to reclaim ourselves or pay less attention to the technological avatar. It is true that this community is obsessed with the latest gadgets, craves for social media buzz and people of varying age groups have the constant need to operate on a tweet or obtain the most “likes” on their personal page. In fact, it’s the the same behavior that I am trying to lessen in my day-to-day activity. Turkle makes an interesting point that we feel the need to be in control, and the tangible ability to erase a word or post the perfect picture demonstrates the desire to present ourselves in an almost perfect reflection. The moment were she mentioned the notion of ” I would rather text than talk,” it spoke volume for me because I know a few people in my life who are notorious for choosing the text pad over an in-person conversation or even over-the-phone communication. The short change of real conversation is a real social issue and the idea of forging new identities through computation is a bit pathetic, but we all do it at some point.
Even though majority of her points are agreeable based on current, social behaviors, I have a problem with the way that Turkle underestimates the human ability for change. At times (in both her reading and the TED Talk) it felt as though we (her readers and viewers) were like a child being scolded for something that is non-intentional but certainly controllable. Just as though we have the urge to control our lives, we can turn that sense of control into changing our habits and doing more to switch from the avatar to our normal selves. Multiplicity is certainly at play here and it is our mission to level out our different personalities, one of them being the technological self. But there has to be a sense of confidence that we as people can do so, and unfortunately I don’t get that vibe from Turkle. I mean, she criticizes her young daughter about her analysis of the real turtle at the museum. Come on, she was a kid. On the other hand, I think her examples did offer some humanistic perspective to her argument which I could appreciate.
Let me clarify for the record that we are not only what we share.