Personal Relationships, Intimacy and the Self in a Mediated and Global Digital Age
Few would disagree with Roger Silverstone that the near global exposure of almost all individuals to various forms of mass media content invisibly informs and constrains much social action and belief (Silverstone, 1994: 133). There is less agreement about the precise nature of the impact, particularly in the domain of personal life. The concern of this chapter is digitally mediated forms of communication and intimacy in personal relationships. My work in the 1990s sought to untangle contradictory claims about social change, selfhood and the quality of personal relationships, reconnecting theory with empirical evidence. The optimists in debate then, exemplified by Anthony Giddens, saw personal relationships as becoming more intense and democratically collaborative projects as people sought to anchor themselves through intimacy in rapidly changing worlds. For the pessimists, then exemplified by Zygmunt Bauman and Ulrich Beck, the same forces of rapid change were corrosive of personal relationships and rendered intimacy insipid, vapid and unworkably fragile. Exaggeratedly optimistic and pessimistic postures also haunt discussions of digital technologies and everyday personal lives, similarly implicating theories of selfhood and social change.
KeywordsMobile Phone Social Networking Site Digital Technology Personal Life Symbolic Interactionism
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