The difference between face to face and digital identity construction has been my research focus for the past several years. As I finished reading Malaise of Modernity, I got to thinking about how identity constructed traditionally, in what Taylor calls a ‘dialogical’ process. Although not new to the idea of identity construction, he situates the process in contemporary society that is becoming increasingly individualised. The jist of the dialogical process of identity construction is that it is a two-way, reciprocal process between the self and the outside world. This follows the symbolic interactionist approach to identity construction as well.
The important point behind the dialogical process is that the individual is confronted with negotiating the actions and behaviors outside of themselves. They are influenced and affected by outside opinions, ideas and morals. The individual internalizes this information and in turn re-negotiates their identity. So far, nothing new here.
But what got me thinking, was Taylor’s focus on the alienated individual who becomes more and more seperated from outside influences, as individuals become less politically involved, less socially involved in an increase in self fulfillment over social fulfillment. This got me thinking about the role of blogging in Taylor’s view of modern society. It is also no secret that blogging has an impact on the blogger’s identity, often being seen as a public space for individuals to work out and negotiate elements of the self (think of Foucault, journals, essays and hupomnemata). But I wonder if blogging is a false dialogical process because of the blurring of the line of public and private within many blog spaces.
What I mean is, I sit here and I blog, knowing full well that it is a public space. Theoretically, I would be tempted to say that by blogging publically, I am participating in a dialogical process between myself and the outside world. But, seeing as there is little feedback in the blogging process, I am really only externally contemplating ideas and issues that are essentially internal – just in a public space. If this is the case, one could argue that blogging offers a false sense of exteriority, only really reinforcing the blogger’s position and therefore their identity. Is this a syndrome of an increasingly individualised society? I THINK I am having a conversation with the world, but really its all inside my head?