Identity: Virtual Reality

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In the two essays, “Cyberspace and Identity”, by Sherry Turkle, and “The Naked Crowd”, by Jeffery Rosen, there is a discussion over identity. Each of these essays present the authors interpretation of how identity is so versatile in today’s society and go about stating their claims in similar ways; however, there are differences in their arguments. Turkle claims that we dramatize our lives and “think of identity in terms of multiplicity and flexibility” [466], while Rosen says that today’s society has anxiety about identity which leads us to value exposure over privacy.

Beginning with Turkle’s essay, she argues that people like the idea of identity within cyberspace because it allows us to create different personalities in virtual space -like a test run for who you want to become. This day in age you can go onto various networking sites and create profiles of yourself that are not necessarily the whole truth, but are not entirely lies; it allows “multiple aspects of the self to be explored in parallel” [467]. Online you can be male or female, straight or homosexual, accepted, without being judged. Turkle explains that for many people, joining social networks, chat rooms, and other MUDs, which are Multi User Domains, allows them to cross a boundary into different territory, territory where they are allowed to dig deep into places they would not normally go. She uses the methodology of “cycling through” –different roles in different settings. The comparison explains how people split themselves across various spaces and keep up with various selves all at the time.

Rosen also argues his point about identity via virtual space. He uses the example of sociologist Joshua Meyrowitz’s theory called “situational geography”. It explains how the television created such a notion. Before the television was invented everything was observed via airwaves, you never saw the actors or actresses, or speaker. The way we pictured celebrities was left up to our own interpretation....
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