sick. i'm sick. i hate being sick. 03:09 PM June 08, 2007 from web
Client review pushed up to 9am. I find out at 8am... Large Redbull, donut, let's roll 08:58 AM June 14, 2007 from web
my eyeballs are sore 05:31 PM June 11, 2007 from TwitBin
round the corner from tiger tiger.. must.. resist.. coffee, cake and wifi.. cravings....
To sleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep....... 12:34 AM June 08, 2007the Internet has democratized and amplified personal gut spilling," and further,
Such waves of revelation are fast eroding our notions of private identity. People have always been inclined to share their secrets, to unburden their consciences, and to show off, but in times past these admissions were aimed at confidants—priests, soul mates, diaries. Telling secrets can be therapeutic, but when confession targets the masses, what's really being processed, and who benefits from the disclosure?
Ironically, humans now enjoy more privacy than ever, says Aaron Ben-Ze'ev, president of the University of Haifa and author of Love Online: Emotions on the Internet. "Two hundred years ago, when people lived in villages or very dense cities, everyone's behavior was evident to many and it was extremely hard to hide it," he says. Today, e-mail and "chatting" online allow for completely anonymous interactions. We can talk and make plans without the whole household or office knowing. But if we're so able to keep things to ourselves, then why are we doing exactly the opposite?
. . . .
"There's a way in which our lives seem valid only if they obtain some veneer of media recognition," says Jefferson Singer, a psychologist at Connecticut College. A blog makes your mundane life into an electronic saga that turns you into something more than an anonymous drone in a technological and impersonal world. "You now have a story and perhaps you've even become the focus of other watchers and listeners," says Singer. "You become a character, a speaking part, in the larger theater of society." Even if you're playing the role of the loser—blogging about being unhappy and unattractive—at least you're part of the show.
While both Turkle and Flora were willing to hear Kendall's arguments that blogging has actually helped her to self-actualize in positive ways, and that--maybe, just maybe--the Internet has actually provided productive avenues toward sociality that have brought some persons out of their sometimes-painful isolation into meaningful community with others [a view I share], the ultimate consensus of the show's [one-sided] "conversation" and its "last word" seemed to be best summed up by Turkle, who repeatedly expressed the concern, as she once put it in an interview with New Scientist [20 Sep. 2006],
what is not being cultivated is the ability to be alone and to manage and contain one's emotions. When technology brings us to the point where we're used to sharing our thoughts and feelings instantaneously, it can lead to a new dependence, sometimes to the extent that we need others in order to feel our feelings in the first place.
What is being bemoaned [or perhaps lamented] here is the loss of what might be called "authenticity" or the "authentic self" [a self who knows "who she is" when no one else is around]. Turkle has a unique position here because, while on the one hand it may appear as if she is worried [anxiously worried, even] over a possible future in which an "authentic human self" will no longer exist [and therefore, what will it mean in this future to talk about the singular person, human rights, free will, or even love?], her own work at MIT is deeply concerned with exploring the [often positive] connections between technology, technological artifacts [such as robots], and human beings: go here for more information on that.
For myself, I was a little disappointed that the program did not focus at all on the type of blogging, such as the kind we do here at In The Middle, that combines serious academic discussion and debate [of an immediate sort that is not usually available outside of the space of a medieval studies conference, and which allows us to extend and deepen our intellectual work, even in virtual "congress" with non-medievalists who can help us to sharpen our thought] with more personal reflections that aid us in coming closer together as a human and not just a medievalist community--and here I can't help but nominate Stephanie Trigg's humanities researcher as exemplary in this regard. To think that Stephanie would blog about her cancer just because she would not know how to "feel" about it otherwise is preposterous to me [she is no Tila Tequila!]--indeed, her commitment to catalogue and narrate her ordeal with breast cancer is both brave and inspiring and reminds us that, for all the powerful scholarship some of us accomplish and for all the passion and commitment many of us bring to our work, we are all frail and mortal and need to remember how, in the midst of all of our professional anxieties and in the often-hostile climate and snobbery of medieval studies, we need to "keep it real." I'm as interested in Stephanie's reflections upon her cancer as I am in her sadness over the loss of her favorite milk bar ["I Still Miss Isella"--great post] as I am in her chronicling of her research activities and her academic travels. The narrative she provides on her blog is of a three-dimensional person who has enough to keep her busy without blogging about all of it, but the fact that she does so is an act of generosity not narcissism, and it enriches all of us who read it.
Just after listening to the On Point program I arrived home to find my new issue of Vanity Fair in my mailbox [the special Africa issue guest edited by Bono], in which issue there were excerpts from Al Gore's new book The Assault on Reason, where, interestingly, he descries television as the main culprit in the so-called "death" or "decline" of authentic and reflective life and heralds the Internet as perhaps the last place where democracy might still be possible.
So, all of this got me thinking and wondering: does too much blogging, life-logging, live-caming, and live-journaling really threaten the cultivation of the authentic and private self? Is "being alone" a necessary precondition for authentic self-actualization? Was it really more difficult in the premodern era to "hide" one's behavior, thoughts, and emotions? Why does a "private self" matter so much to what we think of as "being human"? Could the Internet really be the last safe haven of rational thought, strong critique, and freedom?
UPDATE: As a side-letter to my post here and also to partially respond to Karl's comment below, see also Tim Spence's Kalamazoo paper [which he presented on BABEL's "premodern to modern humanisms" panel], "The Book of Hours and iPods, Passionate Lyrics and Prayers: Technologies of the Devotional Self." It's awesome.