Monday, September 30, 2013

Don Yer Blubber, Land Lubber!

Today, I want to talk about blubber. In class, we discussed the idea of varying degrees of symbolic and/or narrative usefulness within certain sections of Melville's Moby Dick. One particular topic that came up over the course of the discussion was blubber, and I think we were maybe too quick in asserting that there is nothing to be learned from whale fat.
Creative Commons License, by Jenny Spadafora

In Ch. 68, Melville, discussing blubber, writes:
[H]erein we see the rare virtue of a strong individual vitality, and the rare virtue of thick walls, and the rare virtue of interior spaciousness. Oh, man! admire and model thyself after the whale! Do thou, too, remain warm among ice. Do thou, too, live in this world without being of it.
This principle of maintaining a so-called "interior spaciousness"--a personal identity or "room of one's own"--proves particularly important within the context of the modern age. A study presented by Katie Davis in "Young People’s Digital Lives: The Impact of Interpersonal Relationships and Digital Media Use on Adolescents’ Sense of Identity" suggest that identity exploration and use of social media have both direct and indirect negative effects on adolescents' "self-concept clarity." The distillation of that is that as they use digital media exploratively, adolescents (and I would guess this could be extended at least marginally to adults as well) lose a sense of personal identity or rather lose clarity in their understanding of the concept of self.
In a previous blog post, I talk about identity and the role of the Internet in shaping our real-life identities. One of the things that I had to learn when I first embarked into the world of digital media was that if I was going to get anywhere, I would have to learn that my own ideas were important--that it was okay to have personal opinions, even if they weren't necessarily held by the majority of my online peers. I think that over time, I've developed a layer of metaphorical blubber that has allowed me to dive into the often icy waters of the Internet while still maintaining my sense of self and holding to the ideas and values that I deem important.

Anyway, that is my rant on blubber. Have you found the same to be the case for you in terms of developing a thicker skin on the Internet?

Article Source: Katie Davis, Young People’s Digital Lives: The Impact of Interpersonal Relationships and Digital Media Use on Adolescents’ Sense of Identity. Computers in Human Behavior 29 (6). 2281-93. Online.