IRL is here!
Chris’s second book, IRL: Finding Realness, Meaning, and Belonging in Our Digital Lives, is out now. Order Today!
What does “IRL (In Real Life)” Really Mean in Today’s Digital Age?Read full description
It’s easy to view our online presence as fake, to see the internet as a space we enter when we aren’t living our real, offline lives. IRL, Chris Stedman’s insightful exploration of authenticity in the digital age, shines a light on how age-old notions of realness can be freshly understood in our online lives. Stedman invites readers to consider how they use the internet to fulfill the essential need to feel real, online and off.
It’s easy and reflexive to view our online presence as fake, to see the internet as a space we enter when we aren’t living our real, offline lives. Yet so much of who we are and what we do now happens online, making it hard to know which parts of our lives are real. IRL, Chris Stedman’s personal and searing 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 IRL invites readers to consider how we use the internet to fulfill the essential human need to feel real—a need many of us once met in institutions, but now seek to do on our own, online—as well as the ways we edit or curate ourselves for digital audiences. The digital search for meaning and belonging presents challenges, Stedman suggests, but also myriad opportunities to become more fully human. In the end, he makes a bold case for embracing realness in all of its uncertainty, online and off, even when it feels risky.
Praise for IRL
“In Stedman’s new book, IRL, he cements his position as a powerful cultural critic and gifted author.”
“Much of the time, [Stedman] says, we don’t think of our time on the internet as real, and therefore we don’t approach it with the same critical analysis that we might a different kind of engagement. How much thought do you put into an activity that you don’t think is real? [Stedman] argues that while our lives online are different, [the internet] is no less real. As such he invites us to think deeply and critically about how we engage with the internet, how it is shaping us, and what it’s telling us about what is real and what is important.”
“[IRL] is erudite yet highly readable, a deeply confessional memoir that mixes philosophy with pop culture and media studies.”
“A book that will change the online (and offline) you.”
“A must-read for anyone who’s condemned the internet for creating huge social disconnect, and everyone whose lived experiences prove otherwise. Stedman explores the many ways people form meaningful relationships and reveal their authentic selves through social media and forums—often with more success and freedom than in their ‘real’ lives. Which brings me to an especially salient point—that this distinction between our digital and physical lives is an antiquated one, and both are equally real.”
“IRL is a beautiful, honest book, a true balm for my Twitter-addled brain.”
“The online world has infiltrated the daily lives of billions of people in such a short amount of time. But what exactly is happening in the minds of so many social media users? . . . Stedman is at ease in the existential, both digitally and [offline, and] IRL is a fascinating contribution to this all-important conversation.”