Over the past decade the very nature of the way we relate to each other has been utterly transformed by online social networking and the mobile technologies that enable unfettered access to it. Our very selves have been extended into the digital world in ways previously unimagined, offering us instantaneous relating to others over a variety of platforms like Facebook and Twitter among others. While in many ways this is introduces a seemingly new paradigm of relating, these new tools still operate on the basis of the same psychological motivations that have always been present.
From the start of life the human being, both physically and psychically, extends itself out into the world. Being “in the mind of the other” is a fundamental part of the human psyche which is founded in our primary motivation for attachment. In the modern world, we find ourselves surrounded by a variety of technologies that offer people continuous connection, though the nature of that connection worries many. By way of social media, individuals and groups interact in a never-ending economy of self-presentation and mutual recognition. The architecture of the digital world mediates relating in particular ways. Though these technologies are founded by the same attachment oriented psychodynamic motivations that underlie “real world" human relating, they do so with by way of their “architecture” which necessarily limits how these motivations are deployed. With over a billion of the world's population on Facebook, the psychodynamic consequences for individuals and our culture are profound and an important locus of psychoanalytic research and analysis.
Aaron Balick (PhD) is a UKCP registered psychotherapist and supervisor working in London. Dr. Balick is an honorary lecturer in Psychoanalytic Studies at the Centre for Psychoanalytic Studies at the University of Essex as well as a trainer, lecturer, supervisor and examiner at several institutions of higher education across the UK. He has a special interest in relational psychoanalysis and psychotherapy and is a founding member and Chair of The Relational School, UK. In addition to his academic and clinical work, Aaron is a media spokesperson for the UKCP and a mental health writer, consultant and media contributor for the BBC. Aaron is the author of two books, The Psychodynamics of Social Networking: connected up instantaneous culture and the self (2014, Karnac) and the children’s book Keep your Cool: how to deal with life’s worries and stress (2013, Hachette)..