I am an ‘always-on’ girl!

This week there is a fascinating collection of new thoughts running through my social-media-minded brain. I have listened to Sherry Turkle’s TED talk (Turkle 2013) and found huge chunks that resonate, not only with how my own social media experiences are absolutely “bound up” in the platforms I use, but also in how I teach self-awareness in my art groups. We do carry the fantasies Turkle talks about throughout our lives, that we will be always heard and never alone. This is the core of all our online and offline relationships. However to insist these human cravings are fantasies goes against how I define myself. I do expect these things from my friends, and I’d say they expect it from me. The core of the issue is that humanity needs to be seen, heard, known and loved. Until someone feels you have seen them, heard them and know them, they cannot feel that you love them. If these are fantasies, then humanity is in trouble. These ‘ideals’ may be unfulfilled expectations in most of our relationships, but to label them as fantasies leaves humanity without hope.

‘Oh the humanity!’
Credit: SGAR_art

Friendship is demanding. The problem isn’t with technology; if there is a problem, it is with us. If we are substituting superficial digital connections for real relationships, the problem is with how we are using technology. Turkle says it is early days and we still get to decide how to use social media. We can choose to make room for the self-reflective solitude that balances the devices’ demand for connections and the fake empathy – and from that space of self-awareness, go forth into this brave new world. The world is in the midst of another paradigm culture shift, just as it was in the Victorian era, and we are smmmmack in the middle of learning how to operate in it.

Living through connections via devices is not necessarily a negative thing. The negativity lies in being unaware of what you are doing. Self-awareness is the most important quality we could possibly teach our children who will grow up in a digital world.

Credit: Manu Cornet, Cartoonist

This week I have also read danah boyd’s thoughts on how we are now “always on”. She means how we live with the assumption that we are always networked with people online. Not that we are actively engaging constantly online, but that we are ABLE to if we choose to. We are not really online and not really offline. There is a new ‘normal’. We are living across all the platforms accessible to us and bringing ourselves into the experience of the merging of online/offline life. We connect people and information constantly in context and as we choose to. We live in an era where developing our own strategies for navigating our online connections is an essential skill.

‘The ‘always-on’ fatal flaw’
Credit: Manu Cornet, Cartoonist

I suspect the driving forces behind social media were introverts. Or extroverted introverts. People who want to be with other people but only in small doses. People who understood their limited capacity for interaction. As Turkle says, people who like to be ‘alone together’.

MDA2009 Assignment 1A How are our social experiences in each of these contexts bound up with social media platforms and their affordances, and how we make use of them?


boyd, d 2012, ‘Participating in the always-on lifestyle’, in M Mandiberg (ed) The Social Media Reader, NYU Press, pp. 71-76.

Corbet, Manu, Twitter post, https://mobile.twitter.com/lmanul

SGAR_art, Instagram post, “Expectations” https://www.instagram.com/p/BxwfOtCnAV9/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

Turkle, S 2013, Connected, but alone?- Sherry Turkle, TED 2013, viewed 20 July 2019, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rv0g8TsnA6c&gt;.

Sherry Turkle ‘Connected, but Alone?’

6 thoughts on “I am an ‘always-on’ girl!

  1. I think I’m an extroverted introvert? Haha! Great post Wendy. Introvert and extrovert for me are the energy we provide to a situation. Do we need energy, or do we give it out? I’m definitely a give out energy sort of people but can happily retreat and be the receiver of energy. I too resonated with Turkles video, and find being always on absolutely mind numbing if I let it. After a bad break up once I completely disconnected from social media and it was absolute bliss. But when I came back on, I had a new found respect for my expectations of social media and definitely have learned how to navigate it, how to use it to my advantage and when to stop when things turn negative.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Wendy! I really enjoyed reading this blog post! As an introvert who has made many friends through online social connections, I agree that the new normal is definitely a mix of online/offline life!

    – Laura

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Hi Wendy, great blog post.
    I love the tone of this post and I think your points about living with connections through devices is really apt at this time of digital and global disruption. I also resonated with Boyd’s writing and feel as though, even though I’m not always utilising my online space, I can, meaning I’m pretty much always on too!

    Can’t wait to read more of your work.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love this Wendy! I can be very socially awkward in person and struggle to articulate my thoughts, but social media and blogs etc has allowed me to have almost an entirely different personality. I write really satirically and with humour online, but rarely speak like this in person. I like the observation on the type of person that created social media, likely an introvert, however I imagine it would be working against them 20 years later when those ‘small windows’ of online connectedness has now transformed so that the window is gone, as you say, you are ALWAYS on. It’s almost easier to be an introvert in a crowed room.

    Liked by 1 person

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