Me Tarzan: cyberspace & the doer/viewer duality of consciousness.
I’ve been tweeting long enough (3 years) to know that there is no necessary correlation between the interest generated by a post (in terms of retweets, likes or comments) and the interestingness of that post. Interests are subjective, vague, ever-shifting and, aside from that, it’s easy to miss stuff in our fast-flowing cyber streams.
Nevertheless, something I excerpted from and linked to on my tumblr a couple months ago has stayed with me, resurfacing in my thoughts like a childhood memory given a renewed light by the comment of someone who shared the experience with you from which the memory arose.
When apes experience human-rearing and are exposed to a human language they begin to display the human patterns of self-awareness and self-reflection by 6 months of age.
This is startling enough infomation though doubtless open to scientific debate. However it was what the author (Sue Savage-Rumbaugh) proceeded to say in the next paragraph that resonated with something that i had long been trying to understand, like finding some of the lost notes to a melody:
The doer/viewer duality of consciousness enables the youngster to think about what it is doing, the appearance of its action, and/or how the action will be perceived by others — all at the same time. When this dualistic process begins to operate, there emerges, within a single brain and body, the capacity to consciously separate the imaged self into that of the doer of one’s actions and the viewer of those same actions.
The interestingness quotient of this observation was, I believed, as I posted it onto my blog, amplified by the nature of our contemporary cyber experience. Were not our online activities as tweeters, bloggers and status-updaters heavily biased towards the imaged self as viewer - primarily concerned with the perception (and reception) by others of what we posted?
Now, I believe, it is true that this is as much a feature of our “real-world” interactions with family, friends, acquaintances and strangers. We are always thinking as much about how others perceive what we say and do as about what we are saying and doing (indeed it can be difficult to differentiate the two) . This may be a natural process, even healthy, though not without its complications.
Unlike the “real-world”, our online world is a reflective surface through which we cannot step. It is easy enough for the people we meet regularly in the embodied world to see through many of our postures and to regard us warts and all. There may be a hard grain of truth in the observation that others know us better than we do ourselves. At play also, of course, is our habit of projecting our own postures atop the ones being projected at us. Much of this is certainly done unconsciously and generally, though not always, may be quite harmless.
The problem, however, faced by the online cybernaut is that they are in danger of falling into the Narcisissean pond because of the lack of feedback for them as a person regarding the degree to which it is easy or rewarding to “get-on-with” them - since the warts-and-all perspective gained, involuntarily, and reflected back from the embodied, social interactions of the “real-world” is often absent from the relationships conducted through this electronic mirror we hold up before us.
My intention here has been no more than to paddle into the shallows and kick about some water. I lack the qualifications, intelligence and, most importantly, the time to explore in depth the issues raised. The tide is coming in, the light is failing. I step down from my flimsy soapbox and return into the madding crowd.
- Jamreilly (2012)
Source article referenced:
Hat tip to Amira at Lapidarium Notes through which I found it.
Photo by Jamreilly: Under the Skin of Light.