The Online Self: Memory and Forgetting in the Digital Age

Gunnthorunn Gudmundsdottir

Abstract


Online self-expression has proliferated in the last decade or so to such an extent that more people now than ever before engage in some sort of autobiographical activity. Social networking sites are the main gateways for this expression and their framework and rules and restrictions influence the type of narrative told there. This essay examines this given framework, the role of memory and forgetting in this process and how the story is told in words and images. What is remembered and forgotten online and in turn our digital traces must influence our sense of identity. Constantly telling one’s story in words and pictures online opens up new autobiographical practices, some of which in one way or another hark back to earlier practices, such as the diary or the use of the family album in autobiography, others are strictly the result of the new technology. What influence this will have in the long term is difficult to envisage, as the future use of these traces seems to be out of our control.

 

THis article was submittted on May 1st, 2014 and published on November 3rd, 2014.


Keywords


Life Writing; online self-expression; social networking Sites

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5463/ejlw.3.100

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European Journal of Life Writing - ISSN 1876-8156 - is an open access initiative supported by the VU University Library.