Digital Subjectivity, Explored

The image above is a screen shot of my Twitter. Yep, that’s right, I said “my” Twitter. You see no one else looks at Twitter the same way I do. No one else has the same follower/following formula. Sure many may have the same number of followers, but no one has the same followers and following. This is because no one else is @JoeHall. Social media is full of different humans (and robots) and each one of us experience it in a different way. Each one of us has a different social media reality. So, you have your own Twitter as well.

Long before social media, philosophers have theorized subjective realities as being the basis for conscious behavior. In 1974, Thomas Nagel asked, “What is It Like to Be a Bat?“. Here, Nagel, tells us that because bats are conscious and interact with the world in a completely different way than any other mammal, their reality is unique. However, you don’t need to be a bat to have a subjective reality, each one of us sees the world differently and thus has a different experience.

The study of subjective reality has been nearly impossible given that no one can truly get inside the mind of someone else. Even the movie Being John Malkovich showed us that having access to another person’s reality isn’t enough if you can’t shed your own on the way in.

However, with social media things are a bit different. Now the saying “walk a mile in someone’s shoes” isn’t just a figure of speech. For example, if I wanted to, I could let anyone reading this, log into my Twitter account. While logged in, they could experience what its like to be @JoeHall. Or better yet, one could log into a spam bot’s acct and see what it’s like to be a spam bot. Or you could log into my mom’s email and get a tiny glimpse into her digital reality. By doing so you would have expanded your own reality and would have a much more rounded perception of the digital landscape.

As we work to build digital realities we are also expanding the potential for new experiences and new avenues for exploring those same realities.

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