Throughout our readings in Remediation this week, we’re given the example of virtual reality over and over again for remediation in our culture. And, when this book was written over 10 years ago, perhaps that was the case. After all, the idea that we could create a new reality to be experienced in a wholly new way was the new frontier. I can remember being in a mall when there were still video arcades and the line taking up an entire hall full of people eager to try this new technology.

But, like laser discs and Second Life, virtual reality was more of a stepping stone to other innovations than a thing in and of itself. With our perspective, it’s easy to dismiss virtual reality as an example of our current culture, but I think the ideas expressed about VR could be extended to apply to social media today in terms of how it makes us interact with the world around us, and how we see ourselves in it.

On page 231, Grusin and Bolter write:

“When we put on the virtual reality helmet, we are the focus of an elaborate technology for real-time, three-dimensional graphics and motion tracking. This is not to say that our identity is fully determined by media, but rather that we employ media as vehicles for defining both personal and cultural identity. As these media become simultaneously technical analogs and social expressions of our identity, we become si- multaneously both the subject and object of contemporary media.”

I believe the key here is the statement that “we employ media as vehicles for defining both personal and cultural identity.” Regardless if that media is a manufactured graphical interface or a Twitter account, we use these outlets as ways to not only see the world around us, but to see ourselves. Social media is seemingly the outer edge of our defining ourselves in our own words, and in the role of personal broadcaster.

The various tools that have arisen in recent years – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, various blogging platforms – all allow us to broadcast ourselves, and for our personally curated content to be consumed, in radically different ways that previously available. They also become our identity; we are defined both by how we can express ourselves and how we can get others to consume that expression as validation of that expression. While at the same time, consuming the expression of others, becoming “both the subject and the object of contemporary media”.

– Andy Odom