Personal authenticity can be defined as having a real true and an honest relationship with oneself and others. To have an authentic relationship two people must have a genuine and strong bond with each other. The theory of authenticity is expressed by Sherry Turkle in her argument titled “Alone Together”. In Turkle’s argument she strongly believes that the best kind of relationships are authentic ones. Authentic ones can only be formed with intimate relationships and with people who share the same human experiences.
She opposes the use of technology because she believes people use it to avoid taking risk to form authentic relationships with others. Technology allows for people to hide themselves and avoid facing the problems that can come from having real-life relationships. The idea of taking risk stated by Turkle is strongly displayed in Gregory Orr’s personal narrative “Return to Hayneville”. He expresses the traumatic experience he went through during the Civil Rights Movement. Orr joined the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) group to protest. His motivation to join was fueled after he accidently killed his younger brother.
Orr took the risk to join the CORE no matter what the outcome would be. All the members of CORE were taken hostage and beaten severely. Looking at both essays its evident that Orr demonstrates what Turkle defines as authenticity. However, Orr’s authenticity was not connected to the Civil Rights Movement, but it was something more personal. Orr’s personal desire for joining the CORE was for him to feel better about accidently killing his brother. The risk Orr takes in his narrative reflects Turkle’s idea of authenticity, but the motive for his personal desire was not authentic to the Civil Rights Movement.
To be able to relate to someone else due to personal human experiences is crucial when deciding to take a risk. Sherry Turkle believes that people who confide in technology avoid the risk of real life complications and are unable to form authentic relationships. According to her authenticity “follows from the ability to put oneself in the place of another, to relate to others because of a shared store of human experiences” (267). An authentic bond can only be possible if the pair has shared some type of human experience and because of that they can strongly relate to each other.
On the other hand, Orr took the risk to join the CORE and ultimately faced the same inhuman real-life experiences that occurred to predominately black people during the Civil Rights Movement. This was evident when Orr stated “I was beaten with nightsticks, but this time more thoroughly as | was the only target” (221). Orr, just like the other people taken hostage, faced the same exact punishments despite race. However, a major difference is that Orr had a choice to take part in CORE, which lead to his beatings, while many others may have not have had that option.
Turkle would agree that Orr’s risk to join CORE was honorable and high risk, but his personal authenticity was not connected to the movement. Orr, being a white man, did not face discrimination or ruthless beatings before this incident, therefore he did not have previous human experience with many of the blacks who were held in confinement. For a relationship to be authentic, two people must have shared human experiences. How could Orr really have an authentic relationship if he didn’t go through the same experiences as many people during that time?
Based on that its obvious Orr’s authenticity is not connected to the CORE, but more connected to his brother. Even though Orr’s connection and bond to the organization was weak, he still reflects Turkle’s idea of authenticity in his events. Orr supports Turkle’s idea on how humans can be vulnerable, which could have lead him to join the CORE. Turkle believes humans are vulnerable and turn to other things that seems pleasing to them. Turkle states that “Technology is seductive when it offers meets our human vulnerabilities” (263).
She feels that ease of technology forces eople to avoid taking a risk and look for the easy way out. This idea relates to Orr and him joining the CORE. After Orr accidently killed his brother, he joined the CORE. On the surface, it may seem as if what CORE was fighting for pleased Orr, but that’s not the case. Nor was joining the organization an easy way out for Orr. However, it was a way for Orr to avoid the pain and guilt he lived with after his brother’s incident. Orr’s authenticity to the organization was tested when he stated “I felt confused and thrilled and purposeful all at the same time” (218).
This was Orr’s initial feeling when he joined the movement. Would someone who had a real authentic relationship to the Civil Rights Movements and the people involve feel lost or confused when taking this risk? Orr’s confusion came from his disconnect with the CORE and what his real motivation was. Orr joined for personal desire, to block out the guilt he faced after killing his bother, not because he had personal authenticity to the movement, but instead he had personal authenticity with his dead brother, and fighting in CORE was the best way for Orr to feel at ease with himself.
Furthermore, since Orr’s personal authenticity conflicted with his authenticity to movement he didn’t have an intimate relationship with the people involved in CORE. Orr’s personal authentic relationship was with his brother, not with the members of the movement. Because of that Orr failed to form intimate relationships. According to Turkle, intimate relationships are necessary to have personal authenticity with someone or a group. Turkle states that “The idea of sociable robots suggests that we might navigate intimacy by skirting it” (271).
People who use technology to form intimate relationships and bonds are actually skirting intimacy. In essential, robots and technology allow people to seek out alternatives to avoid intimate relationships. This idea is reflected in Orr’s story when he states he joined CORE partly because “I hoped I could lose myself in that worthwhile work” (217). Although Orr isn’t turning to social robots to avoid intimate relationships, he turned to CORE to avoid the pain and intimate relationship he lost after he killed his brother.
CORE for him seemed like a movement where he could temporarily forget about his past, and do something right to make a change. Based on Orr’s narrative his personal intimate relationship with his brother is the leading cause for him to have joined the movement. He found an alternative to direct his anger and pain towards. Joining CORE served as a distraction of the agonies of his p ast. Orr did not have previous human experiences as most of the people in the organization, therefore making his authenticity towards the movement insincere.
Looking at both authors, it can be interpetted that Orr does demonstrate authenticity while in confinement with the members of the CORE, but this was not present before joining. Orr demonstrates Turkle idea of authenticity when he witnesses the boy next to him being forced to swallow a pin he had on his shirt. While witnessing this gruesome act Orr stated that he had “the impulse to grab the guard’s pistol… and shoot him as many times as possible” (222). In that instant moment, Orr placed himself in the shoes of the victim and wanted to take action, but he didn’t.
Orr’s personal authenticity to the man was not there and Orr was not willing to risk his life for that guy. In addition, Turkle adds to her idea of authenticity that “we are born, have families, and know loss and the reality of death” (267-268). In the case of Orr and the guy swallowing the pin, Turkle’s idea was exemplified. This was because Orr and the guy both were human, and were aware that they were in a life and death situation, therefore one would assume that Orr would have risked his life for that man, but he didn’t.
Its evident that Orr began to develop bonds with the people in confinement because he felt their pain, however, the bonds were not authentic. Orr’s personal authenticity to the boy was not strong enough for him to be risk his life. This further exemplifies that Orr’s original motive to join the movement was personal, not because he related or had an authentic bond to the people in the CORE movement. Orr’s only personal authentic bond was with his brother. Moreover, Orr’s personal authenticity for his dead brother was real enough for him to join CORE and risk his life.
Orr displays Sherry Turkle’s theory of authenticity because joining CORE allowed him to put himself in place of his brother. This is evident when Orr stated “I longed to sacrifice myself and escape myself-to become a martyr for the movement. If it took death to gain access to the grandeur of meaning” (218). Orr’s purpose of joining the CORE was based on escaping hi st to redeem what he has done in the past. In addition, he acknowledges that people of the march “seemed at peace, all their uncertainties and inner complexities over. I longed to be like them” (218).
Orr personal desire to skirt the traumatic experience of killing his younger brother lead him to join the CORE to fight for a good cause. Orr had personal authenticity to his brother, not the members of the CORE. Looking at Orr’s narrative its clear that he desired to be at peace with himself, and CORE or death was the way he would achieve that. In relation Turkle describes how people turn to technology for substitutes. Turkle believes that “technology offers us substitutes for connecting with each other face-to-face” (272). The use of technology allows people to diverge from real life connections and real life bonds.
People avoid this by sitting behind a computer screen. Looking at both authors, its clear that people seek out different ways to find solace. In Orr’s case, he joined CORE for his personal desire to free his mind of guilt and pain, also because of the personal authenticity he previously had with his brother. In addition, Turkle acknowledges that people turn to technology to find peace and be able are able to better represent themselves via online. Ultimately one’s personal desire to seek comfort in any situation has an affect on how authentic their intentions are in a situation.