Similar to Meg, I also had a hard drive crash last year that has since forced me to either let go of what I’d lost or re-accumulate what I could. Much of this re-accumulation involved essentially scouring the Internet for myself—what images existed online of memories I wanted to retain? What documents existed in e-mail folders somewhere of people I knew? What movies, what songs, which contacts, etc. It was an arduous process as I discovered more and more of myself, some of which was not what I’d lost.
It seemed like a performance. What I found of myself online were obviously fragments of a whole, but I realized for those who didn’t know me (or knew me through this context) that I just became somewhat of a character, an actor on stage whom you do not know but with whom you attempt to identify. Foucault, in the Third Principle identifies the theater as a heterotopia, “a whole series of places that are foreign to one another” yet I think the situation I found myself in, reconciling my Internet self with my actual self, is closer to the mirror comparison Foucault uses in his introduction to the principles of heterotopias.
“The mirror functions as a heterotopia in this respect: it makes this place that I occupy at the moment when I look at myself in the glass at once absolutely real, connected with all the space that surrounds it, and absolutely unreal, since in order to be perceived it has to pass through this virtual point which is over there.” But to take this one step further: I found myself in somewhat of a two-way mirror, gazing at myself on the reflexive side in this heterotopia as I existed some other place, yet there existed a third place from which everyone else could be watching as well. It was an odd revelation to find myself in this dual-existence, trying to perceive myself as others perceived my self. I say this not simply as an example of class discussion, positing the Internet and specific networks like FaceBook and MySpace as social, cyberspace examples of heterotopias, but to encourage anyone to try this self-examination for themselves and look at ‘you’ as you exist online.
Back. up. your. files.