Tuesday, December 1, 2009

New Human Existence

Today in class, we watched a video with two dots speaking to one another about one’s conquest to derive meaning in his life. Through seeing his sightings on the internet, he was able to find happiness. Yet when he did not see anything about himself, he was depressed. He was creating meaning through technology, which signifies the shift in our generation. Many of the philosophers we have read throughout the semester did not have the technological advances that we have made in the past decade. Dr. Johnson pointed out that technology brings about a new crisis of meaning or a new human existence. This new perspective on beings brings about a lot of problems in the existentialist world.

First, we must look at how the internet changes a being. The internet allows us to transcribe exactly who we think we are into a profile. We are able to create, destroy, leave out, or simply be ignorant to characteristics that make us as individuals. A profile may not be a complete lie, but it is our own perception of ourselves and what we want people to see. Alot of people can gain access to the profile or page; through scanning pictures or sighting different interests, people are able to make preconceived ideas of what we are doing or who we are. It allows people to judge others based off the web without even meeting them. That is the first problem. The second problem is for the being itself, which we briefly discussed in class. Through creating meaning on the internet, we have a chance of losing a meaning in the physical world. As a disclaimer, I do not believe that we lose our self by creating a profile or spending time on the web. If it is through those things that we find meaning, then in a sense one has created nothingness within their own lives. (I feel it will be interesting to see the generations below us who have grown up playing Wii instead of playing in the backyard)

There are many issues I feel that could arise with the philosophers if a “being” is communicating and deriving meaning through the internet. The two that stand out to me are Heigel’s master-slave dialectic and Sartre’s “The Gaze.” If two “beings” are not in contact nor know the others true strengths or weaknesses, then how can one gain superiority over the other? In this case, does the internet levels the playing field and acts as an equalizer? On the other hand, without being in contact one cannot be objectified by “the gaze,” yet it seems likely that some form of opinions can be drawn from the internet. Although I have thought about the effects of the internet on the fundamentals of existentialism, but have not yet figured out the way in which the society will deal with the new human existence.


  1. What do you mean by not in contact? Aren't two people chatting over the internet interacting in some way, albeit in not typically sensory kind of way, like talking over a phone, face to face, etc. It seems to me like objectification is still possible there, though I'm not sure it's inevitable, although it does seem pretty hard to avoid entirely.

  2. There can be an objectification of the other person, yet the person on the other ends can control more easily why they are objectified. I'm not saying this is true for all situations, but it seems to me that what I put on the internet or on my facebook profile can easily be manipulated from the reality of the situation. People can objectify me or not objectify me based on the pictures or what I chose to write in my interest. There is a form of communication, yet its different than the type of communication the philosophers we've studied speak of in their writing.

  3. You have a good point about how the commuincation dynamics are different over the internet. It just doesn't seem to me that the communication dynamics are so different that the way people are objectified over the internet is radically different then how they are out in "the real world." (At least that's how I interpreted what you said, be sure to tell me if I'm completely off base here.)

    I think this ESPN sports story about women & the nba is a good example of why, not as much for the actual content of the story itself, but all the user posted comments at the bottom.:


    Another good example that was huge deal was juicy campus. Unlike facebook, you don't have a whole lot of control about what kinds of nasty things people can say about you there, or on other similar sites.

  4. I think that maybe we have to turn the gaze upon ourselves when we create a profile, write a resume, or describe ourselves in general. We have to make ourselves into our major, our career goals, the friend of so-and-so, a native of such-and-such place, etc. I think that the internet is profoundly different because it becomes normal to try to sum yourself up to potentional acquantainces and friends.


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