Thursday, 29 August 2013

Virtual Reality

Image Courtesy of:
 We live in an era of documentation. At the crux of it, an insatiable desire to be seen and heard underlies the operation of users within virtual networks. This correlates with Foucault’s Panopticon theory of internalized self-surveillance (Turkle, 1995). This link is drawn as this desire is commonplace and at its nucleus is about being seen as normal. 

Theoretically information presented to the public sphere is of the user’s ‘best self’. While users construct their identity through the ways in which they express themselves, other users perceive the information put out into the public consciousness and create their identity through perception. This is largely problematic as how we intend to be perceived may not be how those around us interpret our actions (Van Luyn, 2013). 

I’ve spoken extensively in past blogs about determining the scope of my virtual network, Snapchat, within the confines I am bound by. Moving forward with this idea, the ‘me’ presented to those I interact with in my virtual network is not the real me, and neither is the ‘you’ you present. The physical does not translate to virtual at all. Inherent to personal face-to-face communication are things out of reach to virtuality, such as intonation, mannerisms and gestures, facial expressions and context for conversations. Despite conflicting evidence, it has emerged that a minority of people feel comfortable revealing intimate details of themselves online as opposed to real life. Speaking for myself, I feel less comfortable sharing personal information online with those I interact with. I find that if the interaction itself does not emanate from a real life discussion, comments I make can be taken out of context and perceived in an incorrect manner as pure written text lacks the depth and clarity of intention afforded with real life conversation. The intricacies of conversation are lynchpins of human interaction and lost within cyberspace – “the small seemingly inconsequential happenings will…quickly fade from memory if [they] were not recreated” (Tuan, 1991).

I feel as though I am as ‘real’ with the version of myself I present in Snapchat, as I am presenting to an audience I’ve created myself – who by effect I feel comfortable with. Those I socialize with are consistent to the character they present. I do find as the gaps between virtual and reality are still (in my mind at least) extensive it is impossible for one to be their ‘true’ self.

Until Next Time,


1.       Turkle, S. (1995). Life on the Screen: Identity in the age of the internet. New York, USA: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks.
2.       Van Luyn, A. (2013). BA1002: Our Space: Networks, narratives and the making of place, Lecture 5: Stories and Places. [Notes] Retrieved from
3.       Tuan, Y. (1991). Language and The Making of Place: A Narrative- Descriptive Approach, Annals of the Association of American Georgraphers. Taylor & Francis, LTD

Image Credit:
[Image] (2009) Retrieved from: 

1 comment:

  1. Hi Gabriel,

    The ever increasing use of social media to interact with each other can, at times, complicate how we are perceived. Tuan (1991) states that "the power of words is exercised daily in the private sphere" though the lack of personal interaction may not convey the authors intended message.
    I found it interesting that it is a minority of people who share intimate personal information which makes me question how 'real' are we in our chosen space? I too, am not comfortable sharing personal information on my virtual network, Facebook, though am comfortable with the self that I portray.
    The gap between the virtual and real world is huge as they can still be seen as separate 'places' we inhabit.
    Look forward to hearing more...
    Cheers Simone

    Tuan, Y.(1991). Language and The Making of Place: A Narrative- Descriptive Approach, Annals of the Association of American Geographers. Taylor & Francis, LTD.