Cybertyping

I struggled with the definition of cybertyping as I read through this chapter and had to reread the beginning a couple times. From what I understood, cybertyping is basically the process of humans expressing themselves online and how they bring ideas of race and stereotypes with them into the virtual world. That was my original understanding, but Nakamura later stated that, “Cybertypes are more than just racial stereotypes ‘ported’ to a new medium” (pg 5). It was at that point that I realized it was important to look at how race was interpreted and treated differently in cyberspace with new technologies and access to more people and opinions than before.

“utopian ideal of the internet as a democratizing disembodied space” (pg 10).

Utopia. I think it is a nice idea, but I know that it’s impossible as most people do (humans will always be flawed). So when we started this class and the words utopia and digital world were thrown around together, I was surprised. I had never thought of the internet as some great equalizer or some perfect place where everyone would get along.

I started out with technology at a young age, with adults constantly warning me of the perils of the online world. There were always parental controls or safety programs running on my computer because there are a lot of unsavory things online for children. I guess I didn’t realize it until now, but my mindset hasn’t changed. The idea that the online world isn’t perfect and that people say and do things online they wouldn’t normally do in real life has always been a given. I never thought about it before, but people who were adults when the internet first became widely used might have had higher hopes for its ability to bring people together.

I have also never particularly associated negative and nasty practices online with race because I have seen everyone become a victim to online bullying. In regards to cybertypes, I think people are freer with their words, criticisms, and stereotypes online because they can say and do whatever they want while safely typing away on their keyboards. I don’t think the digital world changes people’s views on race, but rather the way it functions as an impersonal barrier allows people to say whatever they want anonymously with less direct consequences.

 

“technology was viewed as instrumental, as a means to an end; users were figured as already- formed subjects who approach it, rather than contingent subjects who are approached and altered by it” (pg 11).

This got me wondering if people’s ability to be more negative online was changing them and their behavior offline. Do you think that our behavior in the digital world can then in turn change what we believe and how we act in the real world?

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Does digital culture = monoculture?

Are we all the same online? Have white people taken it over completely? I don’t think so. Even if the internet doesn’t reach people from all cultures and places in the world, it is up to others to give them an online presence.

Example 1: When our Professor showed us the website for an inmate that someone else had to create for him. Someone who wouldn’t necessarily have a voice online has now been given one despite their lack of access.

Example 2: Humans of New York is quite popular on social media and follows a photographer as he takes pictures of people and asks them questions. Many of the people’s responses are very profound and his subjects come from all walks of life. It is a great cultural and spiritual mashup of all kinds of people. Here are some examples:

 

HONY2

HONY3

Overall, I think that this author’s argument was very binary like we discussed in class. It was basically all about how white people online are the bad guys and our digital culture shows the “Wests ‘dark side’”. I believe/ know there are a lot of bright spots in the so called “darkness” of cyberspace.

 

Ending Questions

“Cybertypes are the images of race that arise when the fears, anxieties, and desires of privileged Western users…are scripted into a textual/graphical environment that is in constant flux and revision” (pg 6).

Is the author trying to say that our insecurities over our own online presence cause us to present ourselves negatively online?

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One thought on “Cybertyping

  1. After reading your thoughts on cybertypes I appreciated your examples, they really helped solidify your claims. Particularly when you said:

    “Are we all the same online? Have white people taken it over completely? I don’t think so. Even if the internet doesn’t reach people from all cultures and places in the world, it is up to others to give them an online presence.”

    To some extent, I do agree with you when you contend that we aren’t all the same online if you are analyzing social media because there is an allowance to express oneself individually. However, in the context of e-commerce, for example, many fashion sites display their items on white models and there is not sign of “other”. In some way this indirectly carries a message across to the consumer that a certain image or identity is associated with their merchandise which helps to promote a standard of monoculture. I don’t believe that white people are taking over the internet but I do see the social dominance that is perceived within the digital space based on the lack of representation. I also agree with you when you mention others providing an online presence for those who can’t access the internet but in the same respect, how can we trust that when that online presence is created, it is authentic? With that in mind, I think that in the absence of authenticity we see the rise of cybertypes which are images that we associate with being a part of a certain race or group. Do you think we can create an online presence for those ‘subaltern’ members without including our own bias’ (negative or positive) for membership?

    Like

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