Virtual Identities: Does Less Mean More?
In the ongoing debate about the significance and the relevance of the virtual when compared to the real, one of the main arguments involved is that the Internet offers very limited possibilities as for constructing or even expressing one’s own identity. This seems to imply that the Internet should be regarded as a very limited and little-affecting social tool. Nevertheless, the percentage of people who live most of their social life on the Internet does not cease to increase. More and more, the ‘Internet version’ of collective and crucial social events is equated in importance to the real ones. This paper contends that it is precisely the limitedness of these technological means of expression that makes them appealing and functional to developing subjectivities. In particular, the relatively small degree of complexity of their articulation allows these technological features to ‘produce’ identities while allowing the user to also withhold significant control over the social self and social relations. This further entails a perception of power over one’s life while limiting opportunities for negotiation, frustration and unsupervised change. The virtual thus becomes a factory of multiple identities, an answer to the often pressing and schizophrenic requests of our contemporary society.
Keywords: Internet, Communication Studies, Identity, Post Structuralism, Deleuze, Virtual, Real, Actual
PhD Student, Communication Studies