Tuesday 21 June 2011

Longing for authenticity

I’ve just been on the Radio 3 programme Night Waves – there was also a fascinating interview with Margaret Drabble and feature on the revitalised Watts Gallery; I’m going to listen more often. But my task was to play the sceptic about the idea that anonymous online relationships and blogs somehow more allow for more authenticity.

I was invited because of my book Authenticity, which is eight years old now but still relevent (well, I would believe that).
And I was also happy to do it, because this debate is part of the cultural zeitgeist at the moment – yet it is ever so important to retain some distinction between virtual and real. Otherwise the powerful corporate world will try to fob us (or at least the poorer among us) with virtual teachers and doctors, claiming that there is really no difference.

One of my fellow contributors said to me afterwards that, even in the online world in the mid-1980s, they had resorted to ‘burger nights’ where everyone got together in the flesh, so to speak.

“In a virtual world, people will long for reality even more,” said the philosopher Robert Nozick, and he was right. Thank goodness.

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