Irl: Finding Realness, Meaning, and Belonging in Our Digital Lives


Product Details

$24.99  $22.99
Broadleaf Books
Publish Date
6.1 X 9.1 X 1.0 inches | 1.35 pounds

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About the Author

Chris Stedman, an activist, community organizer, and writer, is the author of Faitheist: How an Atheist Found Common Ground with the Religious. He has written for The Guardian, The Atlantic, Pitchfork, BuzzFeed, and VICE, and has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, and PBS. Formerly the founding executive director of the Yale Humanist Community, he also served as a humanist chaplain at Harvard University and is currently Adjunct Professor in the Department of Religion and Philosophy at Augsburg University in Minneapolis, Minnesota. To learn more about Chris, visit


Even without the pandemic, IRL would be a vital read, a thoughtful examination of our perpetually logged on existence, and a measured critique of the social systems that define our time online. --AV Club

Stedman remains accessible as he places himself into this technological yet jargon-free narrative; anyone looking to learn more about digital culture and its impact on society will be interested in and able to follow the concepts the author puts forth. --Library Journal

Stedman's humorous, thoughtful guide to how we can rehumanize the online world is needed more than ever. --America Magazine

A handy user's manual for leading an online life full of meaning and connection. --Kirkus Review

I am thankful for IRL. Chris Stedman is equal parts caring and indicting, and I hope this is a book that remains at the forefront of the discussion about our lives -- digital and otherwise -- for years to come. ---- Hanif Adburraqib, author of They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us and Go Ahead in the Rain

Chris Stedman's newest book is a strangely prescient and timely guide to being more real digitally as we enter an era where we will need to be. His idea of digital life as drag has entirely reoriented my sense of self-presentation there, even as this brilliant book does more than that. By turns playful and wise, he makes us legible to ourselves and each other in new ways. ---- Alexander Chee, author of How to Write an Autobiographical Novel and The Queen of the Night

At first, the premise of this book -- Finding Realness, Meaning, and Belonging in Our Digital Lives -- was of exactly zero interest to me because I'm too shallow and morally bankrupt to read any book with belonging and meaning in the title. However, I was unexpectedly riveted by Chris Stedman's fascinating and surprising insights into authenticity both online and off, and I was especially moved by his vulnerability. I think so many people are going to relate to this work of memoir and cultural commentary, especially dismissive and judgmental people like me. ---- Augusten Burroughs, author of Running with Scissors and Dry

IRL is a brilliant and captivating meditation on the complexities of identity in the digital age. Stedman offers a refreshingly nuanced account of how digital spaces both satisfy and complicate the innate human need for community and recognition -- particularly for a generation that can no longer find such fulfillment in religion or other traditional spaces. IRL interrogates conventional binaries -- the real versus the fake, the fleeting versus the lasting -- and asks us to imagine our online lives as a frontier rich with possibility. ---- Meghan O'Gieblyn, author of Interior States

Chris Stedman's IRL is full of insight and honesty, but its greatest achievement lies in furthering our vocabulary of what it means to be real. IRL provides the side of the story many think pieces ignore: that for many of us, our digital lives were where we first learned to live most fully. ---- Garrard Conley, author of Boy Erased

Chris Stedman's IRL is a deft interrogation of how our increasingly digital lives have reshaped our sense of what's real, within ourselves and around us. Drawing from equally deep wells of research and reflection, Stedman probes and provokes our expectations of our changing world, and how we fit in it. ---- Sam Lansky, author of The Gilded Razor and Broken People