A theory of unified online identity
Grover, Mark Francis
People around the world are meeting in places that consist of little more than a touch of some hardware, a dash of electricity, and a pinch of code. As the Internet becomes increasingly incorporated into our lives the subject of online identity becomes increasingly relevant. How are we to conceive of ourselves as selves on the Internet? Is there anything unique or special about the way in which we relate to ourselves in cyberspace? Sherry Turkle answers this question affirmatively, arguing that the Internet is suggestive of a decentered theory of self which ought to make us reconsider our very notion of our identities. In chapter one, Turkle’s position is examined, and I argue that while her encompassing view on online identity presents some incredible insights, in the end it falls short because her argument draws a false conclusion. In chapter two, Christine Korsgaard’s theory of practical identity is taken up as a means of addressing the weakness in Turkle’s theory and, at the same time, salvages the insights revealed in the first chapter. With a theory of unified online identity established, in chapter three it is applied to both show its applicability to case studies and scenarios one may face as they traverse cyberspace, and to explain how it is we can understand our relation to our online selves in a deep sense.
DegreeMaster of Arts (M.A.)
CommitteeMuri, Allison; Hudson, Robert G.; Buschert, William; Pfeifer, Karl