Identity has become a very complex concept today more than it has been before, not only because of cultural integration and immigration but also due to parts of the world merging through the use of different technologies. A person can be in one place in the world while also feeling connected to the world around. Erik Erikson, who is a prominent social psychologist defined identity as a “subjective sense of personal sameness and continuity in which numerous given aspects of the self, such as appearance, temperament, and abilities, combine with chosen roles, occupations, and relationships”. This identity surpasses our personal experiences, and reveals a collective or social identity that humans invest in to preserve and become a significant part of. We are willing to fight for this identity and to sacrifice for it, and we will do anything to belong, as our identity provides a road-map for our behavior. Combining aspects of the self with chosen roles exists in different realms and contexts, from our personal identity, to our familial identity and to our social identity. We have surpassed the social context that we find ourselves enmeshed in and struggling to be a part of, and we have entered into the context of cyber space where identities are as important as they are in the social world.
Through the space of technology we invest a large amount of time, effort and emotion to the building and thriving of the identity we would like to be known for.
The internet has transformed every aspect of our lives from the personal to the social, and it has allowed us to choose what we would like to expose of ourselves to the world, through Twitter feeds, Facebook pages, and blogs. We now have an active hand in forming the identity we would like to present. Through the space of technology we invest a large amount of time, effort and emotion to the building and thriving of the identity we would like to be known for. Although many countries fear the exposure that the internet has presented to their youth, thus restricting access, other countries and societies have embraced it and utilized it to their expense. The question that comes to mind is how does the idea of globalization and shared information technology influence the development of identity in youth today? Does this accelerate identity formation or does it hinder it? To prohibit technology exposure in the 21st century, where it has become so accessible seems unnatural, therefore we must embrace and accept it with caution.
How you choose to invest your time online reflects the virtual identity you are trying to form. Are you an activist publishing a blog about empowerment and spending time on web forums stating your opinions on a topic you are passionate about? Or are you an intellect spending time reading journals and having virtual discussions on online forums? Or are you the entertainer that spends time editing and uploading videos to the “global” virtual community? We must begin to think of the social influences imposed on the amount of information we perceive and process. Not only do we read from the web, we have begun to interact, to speak to, to socialize, to learn, to create through the context of what is the web. Boundaries have become non-existent and information can be accessed by millions at the same time.
This identity surpasses our personal experiences, and reveals a collective or social identity that humans invest in to preserve and become a significant part of.
Is this virtual identity reflective of our actual identity or are we more interested in presenting ourselves in a positive socially desirable light, where we become more concerned with adhering to a certain identity on the web? We are creating our virtual identity and molding our “profiles” to be representative of the people we would like to become, or the groups we would like to belong to. Even the people who “follow” you or are “friends” with you on social media are being exposed to the virtual identity you show them and will either accept it or take an opposing stance. As we are aware of the impressions we make in the presence of the others in the real social world, are we also aware of them on the web? Most people put a lot of thought into everything and anything they post online. However you still find people who have regretted some things they have said online, does that mean they possibly forget the existence of these observers?
Think wisely of the time you spend on the web and to what it contributes to your goals in life as they now play a pivotal part of your existence. We sometimes might feel that an hour spent “surfing” is productive, yet I think otherwise. It is what you intentionally and specifically do using the web that will be productive. Do your draw? Do you create? Do you write? Do you design? Do you read? All these real life activities that have been transferred to cyber space can be the purpose of serving purposeful goals. More so the internet might have contributed to you reading more, creating more, and designing more? The creative world alone has thrived through the discovery of the internet. Think about that, how this new vast world has contributed to your identity and goals?