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Digital Dualism

The term digital dualism stems from the notion that our physical and virtual worlds are separate. Digital dualists believe that the digital world is “virtual” and the physical world “real.”  Is digital dualism a fallacy now that these two worlds are so inextricably entangled to the point where distinction is becoming increasingly irrelevant?

our reality is both technological and organic, both digital and physical, all at once. We are not crossing in and out of separate digital and physical realities, ala The Matrix, but instead live in one reality, one that is augmented by atoms and bits. And our selves are not separated across these two spheres as some dualistic “first” and “second” self, but is instead an augmented self. A Haraway-like cyborg self comprised of a physical body as well as our digital Profile, acting in constant dialogue. Our Facebook profiles reflect who we know and what we do offline, and our offline lives are impacted by what happens on Facebook (e.g., how we might change our behaviors in order to create a more ideal documentation). Most importantly, research demonstrates what social media users already know: we are not trading one reality for another at all, but, instead, using sites like Facebook and others actually increase offline interaction. This is not zero-sum dualism.


The post does not attempt to answer the more interesting question of is a reality augmented by digitality a good thing? Personally I don’t think there is a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer to that. When digitality is so enmeshed in our reality, and its impact so multi-faceted, the response to that question will inevitably have to be a nuanced one, taking into account both the good and the bad of today’s all-pervasive virtual technologies.


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