In her book “Seeing Ourselves through Technology,” Jill Rettberg analyzes the way people see themselves in today’s technologically advanced world. The book explores the origins of how the social media movement started, and what factors lead to people sharing aspects of their daily lives on the internet (Rettberg 2). The impacts of sharing information on the internet are also mentioned, and the author does an excellent job of weighing its pros and cons.
The book has three main themes that are distributed across its six chapters. Each chapter provides real-life examples of the themes being discussed, and this allows the reader to relate to the situation. The themes that the book focuses on are how people represent themselves on the internet, how people like to portray themselves on the internet, and how people use technology for self-quantification (Rettberg 19). Rettberg offers an insight into these themes by analyzing how things were in the pre-digital age, and how things currently stand. With the advancement of technology, many people are curious to find more about themselves through the data gathered by the smart devices that they use.
These main themes serve a common purpose of letting people know how easy it is to share personal information on the internet, and the reasons behind why people share their information on the internet. Rettberg (27) believes that the ease of sharing information, and the control people have over what they share entices them to represent themselves in a way that suits them. The ideology behind selfies and self-trackers is attributed to a desire for self-improvement. People want to be perceived in a positive light, and technology makes it easier for them to do so. It is easy for people to manipulate and control their image on the internet with the help of technology.
Another important point discussed in the book is how people use selfies and other pictures as a way to measure how well they are doing. The self-quantification theme provides an interesting explanation as to how people want to be measured and represented by their likes and followers. Rettberg (19) also goes on to explain how people use self-quantifiers and other tracking devices to obtain more data about themselves. The data that they obtain can be controlled, and it helps them in several ways, such as cautious people tracking how many calories have been burned. The author uses many such examples in her text to explain how people use data about themselves.
Rettberg also analyzes one of the biggest issues faced by sharing information on the internet. The ease of data manipulation and how self-tracking can lead to information being sold for marketing purposes is also discussed. By publicizing personal information through self-quantifying and tracking, people open themselves up to potential surveillance by intelligence authorities or other mischievous individuals, and Rettberg (79) explains this issue very effectively. The author also discusses how hard it is to withhold data on the internet from third-party sources, and she acknowledges that only technology-oriented people or people with influence can shield their information against data seekers (Rettberg 79). The digital age has brought about many benefits, but one of its shortcomings is how easily it can lead to a security breach.
Rettberg analyzes both sides of the coins as she does not place her entire focus on the dangers caused by using digital tools. The author explains how powerful these tracking devices and tools can be and the options that they provide to users, which allows them to be flexible. Rettberg (64) analyses the origins of selfies and the need for a self-quantification movement throughout her book. Rettenberg also shares her personal experiences with some tracking tools over the years. One such example is how she used a device called “The Narrative Clip,” which uses a camera placed on a person’s chest that takes pictures intermittently throughout the day to portray the world through the wearer’s perspective (Rettenberg 45). This tool provides a memory of the user’s experiences throughout the day by displaying these pictures. Rettberg then goes on to explain how the device has flaws as she cannot place it on her chest, and when she tries to rectify the situation by placing it on her waist, the camera is not able to capture the moments that she wants to collect (Rettenberg 45). The author uses this example to illustrate how useful these self-tracking tools can be, but at the same time, these tools might not be able to live up to the expectations, as evident from Rettberg’s experience. Rettberg does not assume a decisive stand on whether self-tracking and self-quantifying are valuable or detrimental to the user. She argues both sides of the issue and tries to explain the pros and cons associated with these technological tools. This unbiased approach allows her to analyze the issue at hand without offering any bold statements. In her book, Rettberg tries to achieve a balance between how people use technology as a filter, which allows them to see themselves, and how smart devices and tools tell people who they are. Examples from real-life scenarios are mentioned and analyzed to conclude that people have the ultimate control over self-tracking and self-representation. Rettberg believes that technology gives people a platform to represent themselves directly and that people do not need others to represent them. Rettberg concludes that these tools are helpful for people as they allow them to make their positions clear, and they provide a platform for people to raise their concerns and take action directly.
Rettberg, Jill W. Seeing ourselves through technology: How we use selfies, blogs and wearable
devices to see and shape ourselves. Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.