Online Identities

“We expect more from technology and less from each other.” (Turkle, 2011) This quote was mentioned by Sherry Turkle in her book “Alone Together.” She was referring to the usage of social media in specific. Nowadays, people became obsessed with their phones; holding it for most of the time. They reached to the extent that they are more attached to their virtual life that they built on Facebook and less caring to their real social life. Social media is both a bless and a curse depending on how people use it, as it also affects people’s identity and changes them a lot.

Social media, Facebook in specific, can be a blessing as it provides what people need. Many people on Facebook have friends that may reach up to 600 friends, that’s whenever someone post a status or a photo, he will find an immediate like or comment from some of his friend. This makes the person feels that he has people’s attention, and that he is cared for, surrounded by people; this maybe one of the reasons of why people get too attached to social media rather than real social life. It also provides them the chance to show their diverse identities, Zhang, Jiang and Carroll mentioned in their article “Social Identity in Facebook Community Life” made a study which shows the effect of Facebook on people’s identity. They found that participants in their studies were experiencing many concrete identities in social interaction on Facebook. One of the participants referred to himself in his photos on Facebook as One of the Penn Staters, a photographer, a Chinese horse rider and, a soccer player (Zhang, Jiang, & Carroll, 2010). This participant resembles many of the people using Facebook, they feel confident while showing off their different identities on Facebook, and their feeling that they will get people’s attention make them feel satisfied and more addicted to Facebook.

On the other side, social media regular usage can be a curse as it helped in changing people’s identity and adding to it a lot. It affects the way that teenagers develop; it takes away some traits from their personality that they can’t be missing when they grow up. “This transformation [in terms of usage of social media] can give rise to new features of identity in terms of how it’s formed, developed, and enacted” (Zhang, Jiang, & Carroll, 2010). This means that people’s regular use of social media affects their personality and how it is developed. This matches what Turkle mentioned in book, she was talking about the fact that we are always on and available on social media made teenagers completely dependent on their friends and family, and took away their self-independence. Turkle describes a couple of cases where teenage girls text their friends as soon as they experience some kind of emotion, whether good or bad. Before these emotions are fully developed, they are already seeking their friends support or advice. And if the friend doesn’t respond right away, it’s simply a matter of choosing another name and finding someone who will (Turkle, 2011). This leads to the development of a “collaborative” self, rather than an independent one.

To conclude, though social media’s usage may differ from person to person; some may use it as a source of news and others may use it to interact with their friends. But after all, there is one thing that no one would disagree on which is “our cultural norms are rapidly shifting” (Turkle, 2011). We became too addicted to our virtual social life to the extent that it changed and is still changing in our personalities a lot. We should pay attention to such a thing and regulate/put a limit to our usage. We shouldn’t let it take a part of our souls and personalities away with it. We are expecting more from technology for it makes us always connected to every event around us, and to all the people that we know. While expecting less from each other because we think that we are getting more attention on Facebook to the extent that we don’t feel lonely at all. This notion has to change because that is not a real social life that our whole life can be built on. This life is just ‘temporary.’

 

References

Turkle, S. (2011). Alone Together. Basic Books.

Zhang, S., Jiang, H., & Carroll, J. M. (2010). Social Identity in Fcaebook Community Life. International Journal of Virtual Communities and Social Networking, pp. 74-87.

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