- Internet & the Web
How social media and blogging shape our identities
It has become the norm that everyone has at least one profile online where people share a description of their selves, profile pictures, favorite movies, books and bands, etc. We do this for a reason, reasons I can think of for being on Facebook, twitter, blog platform are that its an outlet for free self expression, a way to connect with others and socialize, a way to not feel left out since most of my friends are there, or sometimes for school and social and political activism projects. But is that all? or does online socializing and sharing has a bigger role in our lives?
As for most of us who are spending long time everyday in the social media sites and blogs, and for the younger generation who have been doing so since a very young age, it is believed that the online social media and blogging sharing is effecting the shaping process of our identity whether we intended to or not.
In 2012, a study was published after surveying random users of a social network and blogging site in South Korea indicated that people share personal stuff online motivated by impression management. The Impression Management was defined in the paper as “people’s desire to make good impressions to the others”. We wont to belong and be part of something, we want to be accepted. We create the image we want the people to see us through, people evaluate and respond to us based on this image, and then we start behaving accordingly. The study stated that; in general, it is always essential to get the validations from others on your identity to realize yourself. Accordingly, posting in Social media and blogging not only can validate the identity one create online but can change it too. As people get responds and comments to whatever they post, based on the comments they reevaluate their impression management strategy that they are applying and try to adjust it accordingly. That also happens when reading others’ posts and comparing them to your self. One example of how reading other's posts affect us is when a person read the comments to validate his opinion before sharing. On day-to-day bases our small opinions and decisions are being affected and shaped online, and at the end of the day they affect and shape our whole identities.
I personally find the study true to a great extent, we usually seek the validation and acceptance in real life and that affect our behaviors even if we don’t intend to. Online is just a continuation of real world not a separate world. We do the same thing online with the difference of more freedom and space for expressing our selves.
The case is going to be even clearer with younger generation. The younger generations are more comfortable using technology and socializing online, they are more confortable being public online and they don’t really exaggerate the issue of online privacy. Consequently, for the younger people who are growing up online, when it comes to the phase of shaping their identities, Internet will have a huge affect. The Internet anonymity will enable them to go with different identities from pretty young age and get the responses, which will make them grow and change accordingly until they shape their identity they are comfortable with.