Posted On May 4, 2022
Our Digital Self is separated from the experience of ‘being human’ partly by existing outside the material/real world. Digital You meets up with others online in rooms, boards, sites, platforms – all physical descriptions of non-physical spaces. Post-pandemic, our meetings are on Zoom where even the CEO’s Digital Self is stuck inside the same sized virtual box as everyone else, still fumbling with the mute button trying to be heard. There is no specific place that your Digital Self resides; Digital You is everywhere and nowhere. Digital You has true, deep and real relationships with other digital selves online and yet has no body of its own within which to feel anything about these relationships. Our Digital Selves work for trivial digital-only rewards that have no real world benefits. Your Digital Self puts in the work collecting likes and friends and followers, but it is only your Real Self who benefits from the dopamine hits.
Our Real Self as well is subject to separation from society due to the dehumanising nature of corporations, however we interact with them – either via work or the services we need. We are assigned a ‘customer number’ (which we must include in all correspondence); we can’t seem to cancel our services easily and when we try to contact them, we are unable to speak to a human being- “Press 3 to hear your balance”; it takes us months to get a freelance invoice paid, but we are contacted within minutes of a company unsuccessfully receiving a payment from us; our correspondence from them starts “Dear %FIRSTNAME%”; we are told that any wrong step by our Digital Self risks the job of our Real Self. ‘They’ don’t want us to be human.
This separation of ourselves produces a kind of LONGING. There is a You (a Real You) and there is Another You (a Digital You) who you don’t really know and you long for them to be reunited. They never can be.
“It has become nearly impossible to separate our relationship with the screen from our sense of what it is to be alive.”