Are we afraid of revealing our vulnerabilities? Are we afraid of the messiness of humanity and relationships? What consequences are there for constantly editing our online selves by forming an ideal self? What does this say about our desperate need to be in control?
This theme seems to be pervasive in the way relationships are understood nowadays, and social media plays a large role in how we have devalued the messiness of relationships as a society. In Sherry Turkle’s TED talk, she emphasized the importance of flaws, insecurities, and mistakes. Turkle argues that we “reveal ourselves when we stumble…and when we recognize our vulnerability”. Social media allows for the “cleaning up” of the messiness, which sounds appealing. With texting, tweeting, and emailing, people have complete control over their conversations. Whether you are timing when you send a message, deleting a text, editing an email, or retouching a photo, technology advancements have provided humans the opportunity to constantly be in control of how relationships begin, how relationships unfold, and how relationships end.
These questions I pose are important because they reveal a rejection of natural, human qualities and emotions, and a desire for love that is perfect, flawless, riskless. Rather than being disappointed by “real” people, as the contemporary movie “Her” explores, there is a possibility that more and more people turn to robots to find romantic love and companionship. Robots offer a safer, predictable alternative, with a “no risk relationship”. For these reasons, “real” relationships are viewed as less desirable. Love is supposed to be about accepting your partner’s flaws and gaining their perspective on certain things, and this is impossible with robots. Although dating robots is not considered the norm in any sense, it is clear that people are striving for the “perfect” love in “real” relationships. Constantly editing, reworking, and deleting our online selves is our way of mimicking these “perfect” qualities. The most problematic aspect in this area is the rejection of humanistic qualities, the constant strive for perfection, and the desperate attempt to remain in control.