Monday, March 7, 2011

A Postmodern Culture of Simulation

Sherry Turkle's article Who Am We? states that we are "moving from a modernist culture of calculation toward a postmodernist culture of simulation" (p.1) This follows some of the earlier readings we had about the human need or desire for transcendence. As I mentioned in earlier blogs, I think the amount of time and interaction we have online has affected the way we conceptualize our world. One of Turkle's subjects referred to this as "now real life itself may be just one more window"(p.1). It makes sense that as we spend more of our time and devote more attention to online activities, our patterns of thought change.
People go on MUD's to seek or construct a life that is more rewarding that their real life. Even the notion of "real life" is arbitrary, because the online experience is real to those who experience it. Stewart was a very interesting example of this. He was a physics student with many health problems who took on an online identity named Achilles who had all the characteristics Stewart lacked. Stewart however, does not see this as role playing, but as revealing a "better version of himself" (p.6). I think the problem arises when the virtual reality comes face-to-face with the physical reality and we see ourselves as we really are, physically anyway. Stewart experiences this at the end and reports feeling worse about himself (p.7).
The question of cross-dressing and gender-bending was quite interesting and I wondered about the deep motivations to do so. Yet what I found most fascinating was the question of cybersex and fidelity. I was interested in the different reactions women have about their spouses having a virtual affair. I also felt conflicted about this, on the one hand it is not a "real" physical affair, but can we say that it is not real?
Turkle states "technology is bringing postmodernism down to earth itself; the story of technology refuses modernist resolutions and requires an openness to multiple viewpoints" (p.11) This is at the heart of the argument. I think postmodernism invites us to really question the boundaries of reality in our culture infused with technology.

No comments:

Post a Comment