Second Self

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The term Second Self is a way of describing one's online or external identity. In the case of the web, one's online identity evolves in tandem with offline self. This self, instead of simply a secondary self, is becoming an extension of the self. In the same way that the primary, offline self needs to shower, dress, and maintain the self, so does the online self.

Psychologist and sociologist Sherry Turkle wrote about intense change experienced in the way we use and view computers. For instance, she wrote, "we no longer give “commands” to a machine; we enter into dialogues, navigate simulated worlds, and create virtual realities. Further, the psychological holding power of the computer is no longer limited to one-on-one person/machine interaction. Millions of people now interact with one another via computers on networks, where they have the opportunity to talk, to exchange ideas and feelings, and to assume personae of their own creation".[1] Increasingly, actions upon one's extended self by others directly affect the analog self. For instance, if one posts a piece of content online through their extended self, comments on that post will induce a physiological response in the content creator. Conversely, if no one responds to the post, the content creator may feel isolated or distressed, as if they had spoken in a room with their friends and had not been paid attention to.

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  1. Turkle, Sherry. Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet. Simon and Schuster, 1995.