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Life on the Screen:

Identiy in the Age of the Internet

Sherry Turkle

Document Design cover Sherry Turkle deals more specifically than David Marc with how we are re-evaluating our identities and the way we think about relationships and self, how we are becoming multifaced and decentered. Turkle, like Marc in Bonfire of the Humanities, is concerned about our increasing substitution of simulations of reality for the real. Computers provide new lenses for examining complexity, but they also change the way we think about ourselves and other people.

In a culture of simulation, Turkle warns in Life on the Screen, authenticity has no value. The stability of culturally enforced roles give way to a high value for fluidity and the ability to adapt.

Turkle admonishes us to avoid dismissing life in cyberspace as insignificant, escapism, or meaningless diversion. It is play, but serious play. The culture of simulation provides an opportunity to integrate our access to the many selves we each have. Her concern, however, is that if we lose reality in the process, "we shall have struck a poor bargain." (p. 268)

She notes that the search for self-knowledge has always been the heart of philosophical inquiry. We must develop an understanding of the dynamics of virtual experience to learn both its dangers and its gifts:

Without a deep understanding of the many selves that we express in the virtual we cannot use our experiences there to enrich the real. (p. 269)

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