IRL (In Real Life)
Internet scholars disagree about the social implications of living in a digital world. Some argue that the internet engenders a robust civil society, empowers ordinary people to become active participants in social and political life, transforms relations of production to be more collaborative and egalitarian, and reconfigures social institutions historically plagued by power inequities. Others argue that internet use is anti-social and counter-productive, impoverishing our mental faculties, stunting our emotional development, undermining community and family, empowering bullies, and encouraging crass consumerism. Despite their differing prognoses, these two camps assume and inadvertently reinforce a shared set of values that celebrates the active, responsible, communitarian subject thought to inhabit a real body in the real world, while denigrating the passive, the pleasurable, the irresponsible, and the selfish, qualities linked to the unruly, fantastical, and indeterminate bodies of virtual worlds.
This talk explores how internet scholars make use of understandings of space/place and the body to frame this normative project as if it were purely descriptive. In the service of assumed values, internet scholars have imagined the internet as a virtual, mediated, substitutive world whose effects are felt and matter in the real, unmediated world. How might we reconceive of relationality in a digital world in the absence of internet scholarships normative baggage?
Location: Russell House All Rooms Sponsor: Center for the Humanities URL: Contact: Erinn Savage, firstname.lastname@example.org