Saturated self is a concept first introduced by Gergen, K. J. in his volume The Saturated Self, 1991. This concept refers to an expansion of one’s identity in the range of relations (real, virtual, and imaginary) as a result of accumulative development in communication technologies, i.e., audio, television, Internet, and cell phones (among others).
These technologies allow us to connect to far more people than ever before, in a multiplicity of forms – computer, laptop, smart phone, and tablet (among others) using unlimited Internet access – connected by virtual, in person, across time and space.
We are increasingly immersing ourselves in relationships connected via technologies, without us realising that each technology demands a different conception of ourselves.
For example, when we interact as an employer, our conception of ourselves as a leader is to run the organisation successfully by ensuring established goals are met. However, the conception of ourselves changes when we interact with significant others. We take on the personas and values of the people with whom we communicate daily.
Good and bad things come out of this.
The good is the expansion in the range of relations that would widen our repertoire of “ways of being” (e.g., style of communicating and relating, attitudes, values, opinions, and moralities). Chances are that our adaptive skills become enhanced in an ever-changing world. Thus, creating a sense of confidence and comfort to some extent to deal with the outside world.
However, as we increasingly immerse ourselves in relationships connected via various communication technologies, the result is an erosion of our sense of objective truth – our moral core, which develops our identity.
Moral identity is the degree to which being a moral person is important to our identity. At the interpersonal level, this condition leads to a receding sense of authenticity and loss of enduring emotional intensity and commitment.
This poses another set of challenge – a gap in bridging moral judgement and moral action. Research has consistently found strong links between moral identity and action.
However, the nature of moral identity is evolving and changing as we grow. What is important is that we hold our sense of objective truth because a strong identity requires a life-long moral commitment.
People with objective truth in their way of being are at the vanguard of the new norms of Malaysia.
Dr Farhana Sabri is Senior Lecturer, Counseling Program, at Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM).
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