alone together_sherry turkle

page 214

In thinking about online life, it helps to distinguish between what psychologists call acting out and working through. In acting out, you take the conflicts you have in the physical real and express them again and again in the virtual. There is much repetition and little growth. In working through, you use the materials of online life to confront the conflicts of real and search for new resolutions. This is how Joel uses Rashi. He has made a space for learning how to comine whimsy and gravitas.

Chapter 12: True confessions


Each takes as its premise the notion that you can deal with feeling without dealing directly with a person. In each, something that is less than conversation begins to seem like conversation. Venting feelings comes to feel like sharing them.

In fact, he sees its lack of emotion as potentially “a good thing.” Unlike his family, the robot would be “nonjudgmental.” Darren’s reaction to the idea of talking to a computer program: “I could get out some pure feelings.”

In Darren’s community, he has no place to take what he calls his “irrational positions.” He says that it would be shaming to share them, even with his friends. This is where a future robot would be helpful and the Internet is helpful now.

Shery’s online confessions do not lead her to talk to those she has wronged or to try to make amends. She goes online to feel better, not to make things right.


In talking about online confessions, people say they are satisfied if they get their feeling out, but they still imagine an ideal narrative: they are telling their stories to people who care. Some online confessions reach sympathetic ears, but the ideal narrative is just that, an ideal.

With some exceptions, when we make ourselves vulnerable, we expect to be nurtured.


defense mechanism: “projective identification” They put their “unhappiness onto the site” because, often, they are most angry at others for what they dislike in themselves.


Like a conversation with a robot, online confession appeals because someone silents wants to speak. But if we sue these sites to relieve our anxieties by getting them “out there,” we are not necessarily close to understanding what stands behind them. And we have not used our emotional resources to build sustaining relationships that might help. We cannot blame technology for this state of affairs. It is people who are disappointing each other. Technology merely enables us to create a mythology in which this does no matter.

It does not connect us with people who want to know use; rather, it exposes us to who, like Jonas, may use our troubles to relieve them from looking at their own.  It does nothing to improve our practical situations. It may keep us from taking positive action because we already feel we’ve done “something.”


Ray Oldenberg “the great good place.”

What real-life responsibilities do we have for those we meet in games? Am I my avatar’s keeper?


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