There used to be a time where reality was easy to grasp, where social consciousness and the physical boundaries of what you could feel with the senses were the only things possible to exist. The person willing to experiment living a different life, testing being someone different, than what was so far themselves, needed to travel far away from their land to achieve some anonymity, and begin a new life pretty much requiring to live the old one behind; there was no alternate reality, no double life — although some achieved with great effort —, no partition of the self in multiple alternates “I” at a single given time. If there is something very challenging about current technology is probably how our ‘social’ lives, in a digital form, encourage us to join this kind of experimentation more and more, blurring the barriers between the real, and…the rest…the alternate…the life through the lens of a digital interaction.
There was a time for many of us adults were being kids was no longer an option and we needed to grow and faced the realities of life through adolescence, what was real and what was “I “was also very blurred. Everyday added a little bit more of the perception of one but also could take it away completely. For many, adolescence was the hardest part of their lives, not to know who they were, and what to take a stand for, not even knowing where they were going, — with the only helping hand of parents desperately wanting a lawyer or a doctor. That scary stage of our early adulthood just passes, and solidifies into a self, someone we recognize and takeover to adulthood with us. However, for the new kids of this Internet era it doesn’t seem to end. Digital, becomes another dimension of the self; one where we can just be the same as in our real lives, but that also opens the gates to be someone “different”. If Freud was around the current time, many things will amaze him; particularly how we use our new digital toys to create a separate reality. The id is no longer excited just by natural desires, there is a digital version of it; where our social internet persona demands a new set of passions, requiring the ego and super ego to redefine their jobs as well — if we are borrowing from the classic structural model. The natural way demands a stabilization of one person into adulthood, one being, in one reality. The new way allows, and incentivize people defining themselves in many pieces, or instances, never to achieve a one, because that might be just too boring.
We don’t really know yet the consequences of so much availability of delaying the structuring of a single self for the new generations. Their task at forming a cohesive society where the blend of enough diversity is coupled with solid core, which whom most are striving for, is probably harder than ever. In a world where access to different beings of self is easier than ever for any person, real diversity is now harder to find. Since everybody is feeding from the same culture and influences, as digital permeates and uniforms the perception of reality, what was a single way of living life, but unique in every sense, is now becoming a multiple but predictable way of being, not much different from anyone else. Is like this digital toy allows to play at being different, in exchange for in reality that make us more the same, and easier to model, predict, and record in a way that could later make easier to define us, or portray an image of who we are.
For the new generation digital tools are a wonder but also one of their biggest tragedies. As their early mistakes, undefined selves, and perception of what they are is recorded on day-by-day basis in their social media, with a record that is almost undeletable and that have far bigger consequences than what it had in the pact for their parents. Kids are not only enticed to be multiple versions of them; they are also tricked into leaving a record of their experimentation for the public to see and form an opinion of them. No wonder digital Anonymity becomes a precious resource.
If after the Enlightenment we had a hard time modeling our mind into a model that we could understand, and just fixed every mental problem that the modern living was posing to us. Digital seems takes the problem to another higher level of complexity, and where the science of understanding consequences to our minds is not even playing catch up because things are developing just way too fast. With no definitive guide from experts or governments is left to every individual, their parents, family and friends to judge what is the best way to cope in a spectrum of two poles: a fully digital life, or complete ignorance of what is going out there. Neither extreme the best, therefore a challenge to find a workable middle that preserves the best of our minds.