Alexandra Samuel is one of 58 respondents to my question: What would you like to become more visible in 2011?
Alex is Director of the Social and Interactive Media Centre at Emily Carr University. She co-founded Social Signal and blogs for Oprah.com on the one hand and the Harvard Business Review on the other. Alex is a pioneer thinker and writer about how social media is transforming our politics, work and personal lives. Here is her Becoming Visible response:
Embracing our IRL, Online and Offline
2011 should be the year that we embrace our lives online as part of our real lives. The acronym IRL — "In Real Life" — is used as shorthand all over the Internet, to distinguish what happens online from what happens offline.
And it's a lie. If we still refer to the offline world as "real life," it's only a sign of deep denial — or unwarranted shame — about what reality looks like in the 21st century. The Internet's impact on our daily lives, experiences and relationships is real. And yet many of us feel like we don't have a lot of choices about the role of the Internet in our lives. We spend more and more time online, but feel less and less connected.
Still, the fact that life online can occasionally surprise and delight us points us towards the truth: it's not the Internet itself that leads to pathologies like cyber-bullying, spam and identity theft. Rather it's our decision — individually and collectively — to separate the Internet from the context, norms and experience that guide human behavior. It's our decision to engage in online interaction as if it were fundamentally different from offline conversation. It's our decision to label the Internet as something — anything! — other than real life.
It's time to start living in 21st century reality: a reality that is both on- and offline.
Acknowledge online life as real, and the Internet's transformative potential opens up. My post on 10 reasons to stop apologizing for your online life, sketched out what that could look like.
NOTE: The PDF text for all 58 contributions will be released on January 1st. You can also access the other contributions by clicking the Becoming Visible category on the right of your screen.
Here is a link to my previous post profiling Alex.