Understanding Ourselves in the Age of the Internet

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Understanding Ourselves in the Age of the Internet In her book, Life on Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet, author Sherry Turkle explains the effect technology has on the way individuals view themselves, and how this relates to the growth of postmodernist thinking. According to Turkle, the rapid expansion of network technology, specifically the Internet, is responsible for introducing millions of people to new spaces and ways of interactivity with one another. This revolutionary method for relating to others is swiftly changing how we view our minds, our sexual interactions, the forms of our communities, and even our own identities (Turkle 9). In the excerpts selected for our class reading, Turkle cites Internet communication technology such as chat rooms, MUDs (Multi-User Domains) and IRC (Internet Relay Chat) as the basis for the further exploration of our identities because, "it is on the Internet that our confrontations with technology as it collides with our sense of human identity are fresh, even raw. In the real-time communities of cyber space, we are dwellers on the threshold between the real and virtual, unsure of our footing, inventing ourselves as we go along" (Turkle 10). As we invent new identities in order to harmonize with the changing frontiers of technology and society, our culture moves from the modernist idea of calculation to a postmodern concept of simulation (Turkle 20). To understand the difference between the postmodernist impact on contemporary thought as opposed to the modernist view, it is important to hold a basic understanding of both ideas. Modernist thought is difficult to accurately define - the gradual evolution of philosophy makes it hard to determine how long modernism has ex... ... middle of paper ... ...l life and what is considered computer simulation. After all, most chat users argue, "why grant such superior status to the self that has the body when the selves that don't have bodies are able to have different kinds of experiences?" (Turkle 14). The technological culture of simulation is gradually affecting the way we view our minds as well as our bodies, and a majority of mainstream computer programs are designed with this postmodern influence in mind. Rather than expecting to program aptitude directly into their computers, programmers now believe it is the interaction of smaller subprograms to each other that can create a greater intelligence. The relation of these programs to each other may become too complex to properly define or completely understand, but so are our brains - and this never prevented them from functioning competently (Turkle 20).

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