On Online Selves

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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:

“… but it is us.”

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Today is the 15th anniversary of the September 11 attacks here in the US — in which tens of thousands of people lost someone directly near and intimately dear to them. Those interested in identity studies might see in such annual commemorations something to consider more closely, especially if interested how a sense of absence/Other is crucial for the development of a sense of presence/Self.

That’s why this interview, from earlier today, caught my ear — listen to it via the embed below — especially Howard Lutnick‘s closing, seemingly contradictory, but revealing words:

it’s a part of us, but it doesn’t define us…, but it is us.

Tit For Tat

batFor a long time I’ve been debating whether to write a post in which I complain about colleagues who complain that their students write outrageous things in their class assignments.

But writing such a post comes with risks.

Continue reading “Tit For Tat”

Who We Truly Are?

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Did you catch this spoken word piece, by rapper Prince Ea, that was making the rounds online a couple moths ago? (It’s apparent support for the notion of being post-racial received its share of criticism, by the way.) Continue reading “Who We Truly Are?”

Look How Tall You Are!

Picture1The ease with which identity is presumed to be an inner trait projected outward is pretty easy to document, which makes critiquing it something less than a challenge. For example, I thought about writing a post on the new film “Inside Out” and the popular folk understanding of identity as being an internal quality only subsequently expressed outwardly, such that the social interaction is the effect of a prior and private sentiments.

But that just seemed too easy.

And, besides, the film seems kind’a fun. Continue reading “Look How Tall You Are!”

Meet Me in St. Louis: The Simpler Side of Identity Politics

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When I was a young child, I lived in the third largest city in Missouri – Springfield – and I hadn’t really traveled much outside of the region. At the time I loved to look at atlases and read maps, and I distinctly remember the day that I came across a factoid indicating that the largest city in Missouri was Kansas City (a city I’d never seen), with St. Louis a close second.

I was livid, convinced there was a mistake, for as we all know, being bigger is better, and St. Louis was clearly superior because I’d a) been there, and b) had fun there. In other words, my positive affiliations with St. Louis, while founded on nothing more than visiting some tourist draws and swimming in a motel pool, were enough for me to align my own identity with the city and therefore create strong positive, and in the context, illogical opinions about it. (Ironically, I now live in Kansas City). Continue reading “Meet Me in St. Louis: The Simpler Side of Identity Politics”

You Made Me the Individual That I Am Today

driverstestA story the other day on National Public Radio’s morning show was on the US Republican party’s ongoing efforts to recruit more voters from the Latina/o community.

Give it a listen. Continue reading “You Made Me the Individual That I Am Today”

“Gone. All Gone”

avalonIn the final scene of Barry Levinson’s 1990 film, “Avalon,” Michael, the grandson (played as a child by Elijah Wood and by Tom Wood as an adult), is now all grown up, with a son of his own, and on yet another Thanksgiving, he goes to the nursing home to visit his grandfather, Sam, who is now quite forgetful and aged. Continue reading ““Gone. All Gone””

Brain and Body

Picture 1I heard a replay yesterday of a very interesting episode of Radiolab, all on brain/body issues.

While the story on jet fighter pilots blacking out under high G forces and being dissociated from themselves was fascinating, as was a story on a Dr. figuring out how to use a mirror to treat a patient’s perception of pain in a limb that had long ago been amputated, the story that stuck out for me was on Ian Waterman, a man who, due to a virus affecting his nervous system, lost all proprioception when he was 19. Continue reading “Brain and Body”