Bookmark: "Diagnosing the IRL Fetish"

Sebastian Greger


I do not think the physical is inherently more real than the digital. I do, however, think that the affordances of digital technologies enable abundant production, and in doing so can water-down the meaning of an object and/or interaction.

Jenny L. Davis compares the experience of online and offline, aka. “digital dualism” (e.g. when it comes to birthday cards vs. contgratulations in SNS), but extends this thought by general thoughts on how the effort of production relates to perception of value as technology advances. Does the same story told in a theatre play hold more value than in a movie on the screen? Is a handwritten book more valuable than a printed one?

The perceived realness of an object or interaction is not inextricably tied to the media through which it was produced. The media and the object/interaction, however, are also not wholly disconnected. Rather, the content and the circumstances of an object’s materiality affect—but do not determine—one another.

In what she calls “the IRL fetish”, the abundance that comes with easier access to production (of birthday messages just as much as anything else digital) leads to a more shallow perception of the new, even though it not always might.

I'm Sebastian, Sociologist and Interaction Designer. This journal is mostly about bringing toge­ther social science and design for inclusive, privacy-focused, and sustainable "human-first" digital strategies. I also tend to a "digital garden" with carefully curated resources.

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