Virtual(ity) vs Real(ity)

Communication analysts of the digital age are both critics and believers of the positive and negative influences of the digital media relationships today. We are so fully involved in our technologies today that some would say that our generation is always on. This is something that analysts are in conflict about, that there is an online and offline dichotomy, and that with the access to all the technologies of today that we are always on. Two authors today that butt heads on this online vs offline separation is Sherry Turkle, and Nathan Jurgenson. Turkle is a well known MIT communication professor who has published multiple books, she believes that face to face communication in our society is diminishing, and it is doing away with the way we sincerely connect with people. Jurgenson is a graduate student from University of Maryland who is a bit more positive of the roll the Internet, as he sees it as a craving to connect and communicate with others while using technologies to identify with groups or people among the Internet.

The dispute being examined here is the question of the ability to actually be able to be offline completely, this means more than just logging off, or is technology so infused in our everyday life that we can’t really escape being online. Sherry Turkle’s argument is that we, as a society in the digital era, have an obsession and addiction to be online. Humans need to be constantly online, technologies fulfill the void that we feel when we are alone and not connected to others, this is what Turkle will argue is diminishing our human relationships. Her point here, where she also lays out in her book, is that if we can stay “offline” or separate our self from these technologies than it can restore back to the way humans use to communicate which she thinks had a way better face to face relationships. Turkle believes always being “online” on technology will bring us together, but she argues that it’s the technology that is separating us from real life.

We are so heavily dependent on being online that we now pride ourselves when we say were offline. Jurgenson argues that we are constantly online through platforms of social media. He believes this because we are constantly on sites like Facebook updating our lives for others to see. We are never able to be offline because we are constantly on our technologies, even if we don’t have the app open. Jurgenson like Turkle believes that we use these technologies to fulfill our needs of connection with other, and we do this by using social media. We present our selves on social media in the way we want to be perceived by others, we create someone were not to receive the most likes or followers. This then relates to what Vincent Miller says about displaying to others the best aspects of your life that others will approve of. Which is direct relation to Jurgeson’s stance of how we only post pictures, and updates of our lives online to get approval of others. This all relates back to how our society is now consumed with these technologies to always be online. This creates a multiple identities of people and their life, and this false persona of the communication between people online.

The online culture allows is something that is now allowing us to create different identities online, whether it be on Facebook, or a video game, or Second Life. This culture today created so much opportunity for people to jump into different communities to stay connected with others. I think this is something that is fine in our society because as humans we have the urge to constantly be connected. But on the other hand I also agree with what Turkle is arguing, I think that the amount of time that we spend online is diminishing our abilities to communicate with others in social settings, especially now for children growing up in this era. The Internet allows people a sense of individualism that cannot be found outside of their technologies. There will always be pros and cons to technology, especially because no one really knows what to expect next.

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