Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet | Study Guide

Sherry Turkle

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Course Hero. "Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet Study Guide." Course Hero. 1 May 2020. Web. 17 June 2021. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Life-on-the-Screen-Identity-in-the-Age-of-the-Internet/>.

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Course Hero. (2020, May 1). Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved June 17, 2021, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Life-on-the-Screen-Identity-in-the-Age-of-the-Internet/

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Course Hero. "Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet Study Guide." May 1, 2020. Accessed June 17, 2021. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Life-on-the-Screen-Identity-in-the-Age-of-the-Internet/.

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Course Hero, "Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet Study Guide," May 1, 2020, accessed June 17, 2021, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Life-on-the-Screen-Identity-in-the-Age-of-the-Internet/.

Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet | Part 3, Chapter 10 : On the Internet (Identity Crisis) | Summary

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Key Takeaways

  • Turkle begins her final chapter by asserting that every epoch devises its own standards for psychological health. Whereas some years ago the key value was stability, it is now flexibility, or openness to change.
  • Online personae, Turkle writes, share something in common with the self that emerges in a psychoanalytic encounter. Both are "constructed" and therefore are "significantly virtual."
  • In the next subsection, Turkle refers to the contributions of American psychoanalyst and sociologist Robert Jay Lifton in his book The Protean Self: Human Resilience in an Age of Fragmentation (1993). In that work, Lifton argued that, like the Greek mythological sea god Proteus, who could assume many different forms, healthy humans could have multiple "selves." Many more people are experimenting with multiplicity than ever before, argues Turkle. People are reexamining longstanding unitary notions of identity.
  • Turkle writes that an increasing sense of our inner diversity helps us also to become aware of our limitations. Virtuality can serve as a transitional space, empowering us with choices. The "cyborg," in which human and machine are one, is clearly a major theme in William Gibson's landmark novel Neuromancer (1984). The video-game player merges with the computer. Turkle also comments on the research of Rodney Brooks, who has created an artificial two-year-old named "Cog."
  • In her final subsection, Turkle returns to the tension between the modern and the postmodern. In her opinion, we stand on the boundary between the real and the virtual. Our condition thus resembles the "liminal" terrain posited by British cultural anthropologist Victor Turner. Turner stressed thresholds, or moments of passage. In Turkle's view, we are living in such a time. We need to cultivate a new, deeper understanding of our many virtual selves in order to deal with ourselves and our situation in real life.
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