|HUMAN IDENTITY IN CYBERSPACE
March 25, 1997
in this forum:
How have computers affected education and learning? How can the Internet help Seniors combat boredom and relate to other generations? Will electronic communication lead to a resurgence in writing skills? How will the Internet and technology advances affect the children of today psychologically? Will the have vs. havenot dilemma become the passionate vs. the totally uninterested? psychologically? Additional questions and comments David Russell of Ann Arbor, Michigan, asks:
Is it psychotherapeutically/hermeneutically reasonable to think of the computational network as a Second Other?
MIT professor Sherry Turkle responds:
In my own work I make a big distinction between the fact that the computer is almost naturally perceived either as a second self or as an "almost-other" and the notion that the computer is an Other appropriate in the role of a psychotherapist.
There is no question that people are more willing to accept the computer in the role of a psychotherapist than ever before, a shift that I report in Life on the Screen. One reason for this is that ten years ago, people were comparing a computer psychotherapist to a person while today they are comparing a computer psychotherapist to a self help book. As the therapeutic culture has changed, so have the standards to which we hold the technology that might step into the role. Additionally, people are increasingly willing to accept the computer "at interface value." By this I mean that people are getting familiar with the idea that a computer will be there to help them in their daily life and they are willing to take this help or rather, try this help without getting involved in the philosophical questions of whether this is an appropriate thing to do, or what are the larger implications of having computers in these roles.