Archive for the ‘09. Online Identities’ Category

My Alter Ego is a Seagull

November 22, 2007

Online I’m not James White,  even though my name is so inconspicuous and common place that I could still conceal myself using it.  Instead,  I go by the name of Fletcher the Seagull.   Have you not read Jonathan Livingston Seagull ?  Anywho, I fly through space at the speed of Ethernet.  I soar high above mountains of information in search of knowledge that might, in fact, be useful or relevant.  But I’m never caught in this web.  I’m quick with a joke, witty with the “birds,” and there’s always fish in my bill.  Scratch that.  There’s  always bills in my wallet.  And why is that ?  Well maybe it’s because I’m out to steal your information.

seagull.jpg
That’s me… Well not really.

Alright, seriously though I’m not after your wallet or your identity.  I said I’m not an online predator !  But this is the point – you don’t believe me because I am online, there is no physical connection, and the truth is elusive on these here webs.  Dr. Sherry Turkle explains: “the Internet links millions of people together in new spaces that are changing the way we think, […] the form of our communities, our very identities” (Turkle, 146).  She also sees the computer as a “second self,” capable of altering and distorting reality.

Whoa, wait a second.  So that makes me a “reality distorter?”  Very much so, in fact.  Turkle asserts the fact “that self-presentation is written in text [which] means that there is time to reflect upon and edit one’s ‘composition,’ which makes if it easier for the shy to be outgoing, the ‘nerdy’ sophisticated (Turkle, 146), etc.   Basically, she is affirming that the Internet can be made out to be a fantasy playground, and for an alarming amount of people, this “fantasy” culture is preferred over that of reality.

While the masses find comfort and release in the virtual playground, I tend to get queasy and feel uneasy.  The printing press never allowed for individuality like this.  So how far is too far ?  Am I actually beginning to suspect that humans have too much freedom ?  I surely hope not.  But on the other hand when I log onto the Internet and attempt to strike up a conversation there is always this feeling in the back of my head and in the pit of my stomach that I’m just being lied to.  And when this feeling arises I find it hard to take away anything meaningful from the situation.  Dr. Turkle explains this craving to morph our identities in the form of a  question:  “What does [our] behavior in cyberspace tell [us] about what [we] want, who [we] are, what [we] may not be getting in the rest of [our lives] ? (Turkle, 152)  For myself, it seems almost as if the majority of our culture is not satisfied with their real self.  Yet, instead of trying to improve ourselves, we rather hide out on the Internet under some assumed alias.  These questions are not easily answered, as they delve even deeper into the human psyche, but I don’t believe the answers to these questions can or will be found on the Internet.

James