IRL, Chris Stedman's exploration of authenticity in the digital age, shines a light on how age-old notions of realness--who we are and where we fit in the world--can be freshly understood in our increasingly online lives. Stedman offers a different way of seeing the supposed split between our online and offline selves: the internet and social media are new tools for understanding and expressing ourselves, and the not-always-graceful ways we use these tools can reveal new insights into far older human behaviors and desires.
In IRL: Finding Realness, Meaning, and Belonging in Our Digital Lives, Chris Stedman seeks to answer 'what it means to be digital and to reframe our frustrating, fascinating, and fraught digital lives as a new opportunity to ask persistently difficult questions about what it means to be human.' ... Stedman is at ease in the existential, both digitally and IRL (in real life) ... IRL is a fascinating contribution to this all-important conversation.
... there’s never been a better time for a book like IRL. It’s a book that deals with elemental urges in plain, direct language ... There are dozens of vivid metaphors in the course of this book ... At heart, IRL is a call to break this cycle through what may seem the oddest means imaginable: genuineness. 'It starts with letting ourselves be vulnerable and attached to the world around us instead of treating our digital lives as spaces where we can optimize and design ourselves out of discomfort.' Odds are we’re all going to be living online for the foreseeable future. Stedman’s hard-won wisdom on the subject is well worth heeding.
While IRL is jam-packed with metaphors and beautifully described vignettes of Stedman’s life, the most interesting and perhaps central narrative of the book is the author’s experience with scabies ... Stedman reminds us throughout IRL that these digital lives, though different, aren’t any less real than our offline ones so they must be managed with care.