I am in the midst of writing my first blog…ever! So this is a new and exciting adventure for myself, seeing as I normally write my thoughts in a personal journal of some sorts. In a sense, technology has allowed me to “free myself,” allowing for my thoughts to be read all over the world, at any point in time…oh BOY!
I guess you could say this is a characteristic of cyberfeminism, by freeing ourselves from, as Judy Wajcman describes as our “physical, bodily cues […] sex, age, race, voice, accent or appearance,” (2004, p. 66). Rather, our interactions our therefore reduced to “textual exchanges,” only (Ibid).
I guess what I’m trying to get at is how social media, and technology, can be seen in an optimistic way, a way of allowing individuals to free themselves from the constraints of the physical world. These individuals, like myself, can say how we feel, do as we please, and create an identity without feeling that we are being judged or viewed any differently from others on the Internet. I can therefore understand that I have taken on the “social shaping approach,” where I have an understanding that technology not only influences us, but that we influence and change technology. In other words, we are not powerless to technology, we can shape it to fit our needs and values. In TechnoFeminism by Wajcman, she critiques most of Plant’s argument, believing that cyberfeminism is “too optimistic” and that Plant does not have a true understanding on why women use the Internet and technology (Ibid, p. 71-77). However, as I had mentioned in my reading assignment for this week, I choose to side more with Plant’s notion on cyberfeminism and the positive impact technology has had on our society. Technology, the Internet, and social media forums, such as Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter, allow individuals to create accounts that portray their own individualism. By not having to fear judgment and ridicule in our traditional, face-to-face society, individuals may feel more liberal in expressing their true identity and thoughts.
I can further prove this by using an example. My brother Sam (this is not his real name, but for his sake I am using a fake name for confidential reasons) is a very introverted person: he is quiet, likes to keep to himself, is not a very social guy, and has close but few friends. With this understanding, he does not like to show our traditional society his true side, being a very kind, “feminine man” (what I mean is that he is more emotional than most men.) Even though he does not use his Facebook page very often, he uses the Internet and other forms of technology that can relieve him of his “societal barriers,” by finding individuals on the Internet that share similar characteristics and interest as his, such as one of his favourite Youtuber, TOBUSCUS. Furthermore, technology and social media has allowed individuals like my brother to “broaden our networks” and find people across the world that share similar interest to ourselves, but due to your current location would most likely never meet that individual in your life.
I know this cartoon was in our article by Nancy Baym, but I have loved this cartoon ever since my Dad has bought the New Yorker Cartoon Collection Books. Relating this cartoon back to this theory on cyberfeminism, I choose to see the Internet and technology as rather positive subjects in our lives. We can create our “true identities” on websites and blog sites that we may feel discouraged to show in our traditional society; People, much like the dogs in the cartoon, do not have to portray your “true identity” known only in the physical world. I understand that with freedoms in technology comes limitations of those freedoms, but at least the Internet and technology, as well as social media, have allowed us to “get out of jail” so to speak, and allows individuals to embrace what they feel as “their true identity.” So my question to you, fellow feminist-bloggers, is do you feel social media allows you to “be yourself?” Now enjoy some Audioslave and remember “to be yourself is all that you can do.”