Social Media in Transforming Identities
The advent of social media has changed the way people live in the society. Thanks to social networking sites, people have been able to shift their view of identity. As a result, social networking sites have become an important component in defining how various people develop their identities. Due to the enormous online presence felt after the advent of social networking sites, people feel the urge to check how others view them online as opposed to how they are in real life. There has been a push to develop a good image in the eyes of friends and followers online for people to feel accepted by these friends. Social networking sites these days have been observed to influence how different individuals form their identities, leading to the re-invention of the description of human identity.
Social networking sites have re-invented identity in both positive and negative ways. They have transformed how different people view each other. The state of profiles in social networking sites has become so significant that even during employment employers ask for one’s social media name to look at the content that they have been posting. If the content is not viewed as something what the employers want, then they can choose not to employ the said person (Cox). From the above example, it is clear that different communication technologies have the capacity to transform cultures and re-shape social relations in all spheres of life. Each person is tied to his/her social media identity. As a result, people who wish to become the image of various firms have to post what is viewed as the content acceptable to the rest of the society.
Additionally, communication technologies have also refined the standard of the information that should be known about a person. It means that different social networking sites have continually increased the ‘About’ field in the networks. Facebook, for example, has continued to increase the person’s ‘About’ field. Thus, while looking at some user’s profile, others immediately see this user’s age, history of residence, work experience, and school background. Additionally, most of these communication technologies can give a summary of one’s life in a chronological order. An example can be seen on Facebook, which has a ‘Life Events’ chronology that summarizes the person’s use of Facebook from the first time that they signed up. Therefore, such refinement of the standards about everyone that a new person deserves to know are now considered as the social identity of these people.
Consequently, communication technologies provide the platform through which people can create different identities. The first time one signs up into these social networking sites, one is presented with a chance to be creative. Many people take on a new social identity that becomes known only to their friends on these social networking sites. They take on new names, new hobbies, and a new lifestyle, just to name but a few. These people, therefore, have two identities, including their online identity and their real identity. Having two identities was the sole reason why there was a backlash when Facebook decided to introduce a policy known as ‘Real Names’, whereby Facebook users were required to verify their names with their legal names. Therefore, communication technologies have given users the need to have two identities with one of them being different from what they have in real life.
Another way how communication technologies have transformed people’s identity is by giving people a standard by which to measure themselves. Using social networking sites gives people an emotional connection with the content that they intend to use, as well as friends that they have online. Before one posts a picture or any form of content, they need to think about what the content they are posting says about them. People post good-looking photos on Facebook and others compare themselves to the photos posted by their friends (Konnikova). Research shows that female college students with an emotional connection to some social media have a higher likelihood of comparing their bodies with those of their friend (Pennell). As a result, such students are at risk of subjecting themselves to risky dieting behaviors in order to lose weight and resemble their friends (Pennell). Therefore, social networking sites transform the way people view themselves.
Lastly, communication media have transformed what people feel that they need in their life. Social networking sites have created users who have some identity crisis and feel the need for attention (Harris). Social media have presented people with the need for attention and catered to people who are obsessed with themselves. People now post content online to get the satisfaction of receiving feedback from their friends, as well as getting likes. Instagram, for example, provides a platform where people post their photos and get likes and reactions from their friends (Simmons). They can also lash out or open up about what they feel. As a result, social media have transformed the identity of various people.
In conclusion, transformation that has been brought by communication technologies have become a rather controversial issue, but it is undeniably evident in the modern society as shown by the abovementioned examples. Social networking sites have encouraged people to develop new identities in addition to the one they have in the real life. Moreover, people now have a standard and a norm of an online identity that they try to implement offline. Additionally, due to the social media the need to receive feedback from friends has become a necessity. People also tend to compare themselves with their friends and other users in various respects as social media offer a lot of information about users that is freely available to others. Finally, social media have refined the standard of information that people need to know about a person.
Cox, Susan. “Facebook Has Totally Reinvented Human Identity: Why It’s Even Worse Than You Think.” SALON, 26 Oct. 2014, www.salon.com/2014/10/26/facebook_has_totally_reinvented_human_identity_why_its_even_worse_than_you_think/. Accessed 9 March 2017.
Harris, Sarah. “Facebook, and Twitter are Creating a Vain Generation of Self-Obsessed People with a Child-Like Need for Feedback, Warns Top Scientist.” Mail Online, 30 July 2011, www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2020378/Facebook-Twitter-creating-vain-generation-self-obsessed-people.html. Accessed 9 March 2017.
Konnikova, Maria. “How Facebook Makes Us Unhappy.” The New Yorker, 10 Sept. 2013, www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/how-facebook-makes-us-unhappy. Accessed 9 March 2017.
Pennell, Julie. “How Facebook Can Affect Your Body Image.” TEENVOGUE, 22 July 2015, www.teenvogue.com/story/facebook-effect-on-body-image. Accessed 9 March 2017.
Simmons, Rachel. The Secret Language of Girls on Instagram. TIME, 11 Nov. 2014, www.time.com/3559340/instagram-tween-girls/. Accessed 9 March 2017.