The Internet of Affect: A roundtable discussion

This panel was around the topic of Internet use and research, especially around the use of emotion. The members of the roundtable are Sally Wyatt, TL Taylor (who spoke in our pre-conference as well), Laura Gurak, and Jeff Ubois.

They are speaking about the use of observed and personal emotion.

One was an example of anger (observed) and anxiety (tension about the personal experience of researchers in the field). There is a visceral experience of emotion online. If one lived through an experience of anger (such as in a problematic online gaming situation).

Another set of observed and experienced affect is memory, with lots of examples of people who had private information online and who wanted them removed due to the intensity and persistence of emotion (sex worker sites, wearing Nazi uniforms in WWII reenactments, etc.).  Really interesting comment about how the persistance of memory that has different effects on different people based on their lived experiences.

There is a lack of social cues and a sense of flaming, though there are examples of significant grief that a community could experience online. The experience of observing online grief.  Her experience of being lost in space, regarding reading onine, is quite empathetic.

A final example of oberved reaction is boredom. There was somebody who gets bored on the Internet, somewhat like ironing to this person who was described. Alas, I like ironing (or at least the repetitive nature of ironing tends to reset my often out of control lifestyle). The emotional experience that was felt was awe, especially given the focus on how people navigate the health system and online health information. Ahh, as per Giddens, living in late modernity “is hard work.” People can have an impact with theory and understanding reality without engaging in empirical work (e.g., Marx, Weber).

“This is a roundtable without a table.” One of the best lines I heard all day.

Questions and discussion about reading online, printing out papers, and the like. Now, onto archiving. Makes me think about how I can now load my PDF articles into my EndNote library.

The discussion about loss and archiving things online presents an interesting area of thought, especially around anonymity.

I like how one of the presenters said about how she likes to problematize that question. Things that we did not have before (such as photos in a box at a mother’s house), but now we have so many electronic ones that in some way we want to back them up and keep all of them. Their commonality seems to make even more important.

Really interesting ongoing reflection on archiving photos and the emotional memory / remembering that happens when we are reminded of them.

I disagree with the speaker now who says that we all (or at least primarily) produce and publish online and we want comments or people to move our work along.

Ahh, the Internet as a performative space of affect, as we often say or do things online that do not match what we do F2F. Perhaps it is to make a point, or raise affect of others or control or  even because we often cannot do that in-person?

Concluding thoughts — as  though affect has been studied and observed, there is still a feeling that affect can be pursued and discussed much more. No surprise here, as we still cannot understand or clearly give voice to F2F affect as well!!

Affect as currency and affect as effect and way of communicating / performing one’s identity. I wonder how this all can (will?) play a role in my research?