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Identities, relationships and on-line spaces

March 15th, 2011 by Graham Attwell

Interesting post by Karen Romeis on identities.

Karyn says:

I have noticed that some of the people with whom I have both and on- and off-line relationship are competent at conducting a single relationship in two spaces. Others less so. In some cases, there is a strange split. There is one relationship going on online and another offline, and that it seems to be ‘not done’ to break that wall…….In cases where people pursue two separate relationships with me, I have come to regard that as a sign of an inability to assimilate an online space into an existing relationship. An indication that there is a level of maturity still to be gained. By and large, this two relationship experience tends to be restricted to those for whom social media tools are little more than toys.

I am not sure it is as simple as that. We are increasingly morphing the digital into all aspects of our lives. But at the same time – just in the way the environment shapes our face to face relationships – then digital tools intermediate digital relationships. And I think that we all have different identities. Such identities are mediated by environments. And I am unsure that it is simple to just ‘assimilate’ an online space into an existing relationship. That on-line space surely mediates the nature of the relationship – off and online. In the comments on her post Karyn says when she talks about maturity she is referring to the maturity of the digital environments we use. But I can see more ‘mature’ digital environments – for instance augmented reality – further enhancing our different identities – rather than leading to a single identity – on or off-line.

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