Online Life and Online Bodies

Idea Group Inc
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Encyclopedia of Gender and Information Technology, 2006, 1, pp. 946 - 951
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Bodies are often claimed to be irrelevant to online activity. Online space, or activity, is frequently described as if disembodied, and often this absence of visible bodies is said to contribute to freedom from social pressures around gender, race, and body type (Reid 1996). However, without bodies, people could not access the Internet, and online there are continual references, directly or indirectly, to bodies, so the term disembodied references a particular type of "ghost" body. Therefore, rather than accepting ideas that naturalise dislocating life online from bodies, it is necessary to explore the situations in which this occurs. Another commonly used body metaphor is the cyborg: the melding of human with machine. In both cases, the body is usually taken as underllying what is happening and as a referent for authenticity.
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