Shards Of Our Selves

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In reviewing Nora Young's The Virtual Self, Navneet Alang lingers on how our digital lives have evolved our sense of self-image:

[T]o exist online is to be famous—or at least "micro-famous," as Internet entrepreneur Rex Sorgatz once called it. To be known by the collection of words and images we put out into public space was once the domain of a tiny few, those whose fame allowed them to be known by many. But in a remarkably short amount of time, many of us have come to exist in relation to a public projection of ourselves, a stand-in that more or less works as a separate yet fundamental part of who we are. What is true for Marilyn, Madonna and Lady Gaga—that there are always at least two versions, the public circulation of chatter and pictures, and the private—is now true for most of us.

She considers the philosophical implications:

All we can say is that we are never more to be simply "individuals." Descartes ‘left’ his body so as to return to it, certain of the relationship between that one solitary object and the world out there. Alas, such sureness is not for us. It is the overlapped duality of the digital and the bodily that is our fate. Where we once had a private journal or the insides of our minds, we now have a kaleidoscopic public canvas onto which to paint ourselves for others to see. And in the future, who we are will always be both our bodily self and its public hologram—sometimes together, sometimes apart—but never again a version of us that is to be found in just one place.

(Photo from Mathieu Grac’s series of social media portraits in progress)