On Online Selves

screen-shot-2016-10-23-at-4-05-01-pm

In a recent interview, the creator and primary writer of the British anthology series, Black Mirror, Charlie Brooker, offered the following commentary on selves and social media.

Social media has made it…, and the internet and technology in general, has sharpened all of those things — I guess they’ve always been there, that performative nature of life, has always been there, that you sort of perform your personality, I guess, to everyone, on some level. I remember…, my theory is that we’ve got…, that we used to have several personalities and now we’re encouraged to have one, online. By which I mean…, I remember once having a birthday party and people from different aspects of my life showed up…, and I behaved differently with all of these people, in the real world, but once they were all together in one space, and they were all mingled in, in one group, if I walked over to them I suddenly didn’t know how to speak. Do you know what I mean? Because like, with some of them I’d try to be all intellectual and erudite and with others I’d just swear and curse and be an idiot. And suddenly when they’re all in one space I don’t know who I am. And I kind’a feel like one sort of thing is that online you’re encouraged to perform one personality for everyone. And I wonder if that’s one of the things that’s feeding into the kind of polarization that seems to be going on…. I think that lends itself to group-think, in some way… I wonder if we’re better equipped to deal with having slightly different personas…, that come out when you interact with different types of people.

For the full interview, see 28:46 onward from this episode of Fresh Air.

Watch the trailer for the newly released third season:

They’re Just Old Buildings, Right?

Picture 29

Prompted by the discussion surrounding Rachel Dolezal’s NAACP resignation, this series of posts is about how and when we take performativity seriously…, and when it bows to interests in historical or experiential specificity.

My brother, Elliot, who died in 1996, was mentally disabled. That’s him above, with my two sisters. And that’s me on the far right; he was 12 years older than me and, as a baby, had taken a particularly bad fall from his highchair; presumably, that’s what caused what, just a couple years later, became painfully apparent to my parents: he had no speech development and began suffering from repeated grand mal seizures. I won’t belabor the tragedy of his life and death, but suffice it to say that in the 1950s there was little choice but to institutionalize him, when he was a young boy, in a government-run institution. So his profound cognitive problems were quickly compounded by a number of physical problems — who knows what all abuse he was subjected to over the course of his life, but from the “cauliflower ears” and missing teeth that soon resulted, well…, it was apparent that life in the institution was horrendous. Continue reading “They’re Just Old Buildings, Right?”

Identifying Identity with Steven Ramey

“Identifying Identity” offers a series of responses from members of Culture on the Edge to the following claim made by Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg:

zuckerberg blurb

Steven Ramey:

Michael Zimmer’s critique of Zuckerberg’s assertion that people should only have one identity reflects my initial reaction to that statement, as Zuckerberg ignores the strategic ways that everyone presents themselves. Embedded within Zimmer’s critique, however, is a similar notion of the stable self. He writes, “It is not that you pretend to be someone that you are not; rather, you turn the volume up on some aspects of your identity, and tone down others, all based on the particular context you find yourself.” The identity is stable, and we strategically choose what aspects to emphasize here or there. But, processes of identification are more complicated than that. Continue reading “Identifying Identity with Steven Ramey”

Staking a Claim

image

Check out NPR’s latest bit from their code switch blog on what’s been termed “Columbusing,” or claiming originality for something that’s been around for a while, just in a context different from one’s own. Continue reading “Staking a Claim”

All the World’s a Stage

cosplayIt’s hard not to know about the penchant for cosplay (short for “costume play”) that’s all over the internet — where people dress up like characters and attend conferences or engage in various forms of role playing. Some consider it a hobby, others call it performance art.

Maybe it’s how you spend your weekends…. Continue reading “All the World’s a Stage”

On the Spot with Leslie Dorrough Smith

“On the Spot” backs members of Culture on the Edge into a corner to talk about their backgrounds, their ongoing work, and what might be gained by an alternative understanding of how identity works.

leslieQ: Leslie, you have a book out soon that is on the way a certain rhetoric of chaos vs. order is used by some groups in the U.S. to organize themselves, by distinguishing their members from others, their preferences from others, and their values from others. Is that a fair (if general) description of your project? Could you tell us more?

A: Yes – this is a fairly unorthodox approach to a very mainstream subject.  The book, which is about the rhetoric of one Christian Right group, is entitled Righteous Rhetoric: Sex, Speech, and the Politics of Concerned Women for America (Oxford, 2014). Continue reading “On the Spot with Leslie Dorrough Smith”