*Please note: This event will take place live on Streamyard, hosted by Dynasty Typewriter. Purchase tickets here.
IRL: Finding Realness, Meaning, and Belonging in Our Digital Lives (Broadleaf Books)
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.
CHRIS STEDMAN is a Minneapolis-based writer, speaker, teacher, and community organizer. He is the author of IRL: Finding Realness, Meaning, and Belonging in Our Digital Lives (2020) and Faitheist (2012). Chris has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, and PBS, and has written for publications including The Guardian, The Atlantic, BuzzFeed, Pitchfork, VICE, The Rumpus, The LA Review of Books, Catapult, and The Washington Post.
Previously the founding director of the Yale Humanist Community and a fellow at Yale University, Chris also served as a humanist chaplain at Harvard University. He currently teaches in the Department of Religion and Philosophy at Augsburg University and serves as the Network of ELCA Colleges and Universities’ 2020-21 visiting lecturer. To learn more, visit chrisstedmanwriter.com or irlbook.com.
JOEL KIM BOOSTER is a writer and comedian living in Los Angeles.