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Social Media and other Technology Influence How We Form Our Identity
Identity is what distinguishes an individual from the rest in society. At the same time, identity makes one be categorized in a certain group that he or she shares characteristics with. Although one’s identity can develop naturally, social interactions play a big role in the development of personal identity. The social interactions elicit how we view ourselves by comparing ourselves with others and influences how we relate with others. There is no other time before that the self-identity of young persons have been greatly influenced by the outside world than this time of social media and advanced technology (Taylor n.p). Social media has made young people develop a double identity, the physical and virtual identity, where the former has is the most preferred. The virtual identity that has been promoted by social media and related technology has transformed young people into “actors” who are afraid of reality.
Social media makes individuals create “physical” identities that they wish to have but not what they actually have. The social media technology has advanced to an extent where users can edit or “photoshop” themselves to appear how they want other people to see them before they post the pictures on the online platforms. It is not uncommon for young people, both boys and girls, to spend time editing and admiring their virtual identities while considering which will make more appeal to the online “friends” and followers. In other words, these individuals get into “self-denial” mode where they “reject” their true identity and “acquire” a new and “preferable” identity, “thanks to the social media and related technology.
The timid and “small” have found a place to they can be amplified beyond what others view and think about them. This can be looked at both a positive and negative perspective. Looking at the positive side, some online platforms allow users to participate in anonymity; this creates an opportunity for those who are not courageous enough to express themselves in real life, to open up and “talk” about their feelings (Gündüz 88). Although this is part of being “actors” since it involves taking up a different identity, at least it allows the individuals to express their true feelings, for example, a teenager who feels that he is gay but is not confident to express himself in to the persons he physically interacts with, can get to the anonymous online sites and express his feelings without being worried about his identity. On the negative perspective, while the anonymity give the users “confidence’ to express themselves, on the ground things are different, as these people retire to their reality mode. They find that nothing has changed, they are still the old timid selves, and where do they resort? Back in the social media, “to interact and share feelings with their community members”. Whether looked at with positive or negative lens, the bottom line is that the social media has turned a significant number of young people into “actors”.
The social media is influencing how we as young people see as cool and sexy. The social media has provided mixed interpretations of what is cool, beautiful, appropriate and attractive. The celebrities and so called influencers are the main “culprits” in this line of influencing the identities of young persons (www.frontiersin.org n.p). As young persons, especially the teenagers take the online celebrities as the standard identity, and thus wish and try to be like them. However, the matter of fact is that the so called celebrities or influencers are acting and others are just doing business. The young people who form the biggest population of followers of these online personality find themselves being actors too in their lives instead of living their real life. Some even go to an extent of creating their own online identities that mimic those of the “influencers’ and in most cases it does not end up well since such identities does not reflect what is the reality of life. Furthermore, some individuals can end up in depression while trying to live up to the virtual identity standards, which is above what they can afford. The implication is that social media is transforming young people into deceptive actors by creating wishful interpretations of life qualities.
Social media and technology has changed the normal ways of expressing our identities into virtual identities. Individuals have become more concern about how their online “friends” and followers see them rather than focusing on their real identities. On the positive side, social media has given a voice to individuals who are otherwise timid and have low confidence in real life; this is truer in anonymous platforms that create a level ground for all participants. That notwithstanding, social media and technology has influenced young people from being realists to being actors. At the same time, social media and technology are here to stay and they will continue being part of the modern society culture but it is our duty to define our actual identities and control our virtual identities from taking precedence over our true identities.
Gündüz, Uğur. “The Effect Of Social Media On Identity Construction.” Mediterranean
Journal of Social Sciences 8.5 (2017): 85-92. Web. 1 Oct. 2019.
Taylor, Jim. “Technology: Is Technology Stealing Our (Self) Identities?”. Psychology Today,
www.frontiersin.org. “The Role Of Social Media Influencers In The Lives Of Children And
Adolescents”. Frontiers, https://www.frontiersin.org/research-topics/9295/the-role-of-social-media-influencers-in-the-lives-of-children-and-adolescents.