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Technology has led to the development of social networking sites enabling social interactions, where people can easily have conversations, share photographs, videos, and basically all the moments of their lives. The social media is a popular platform among the youths, fostering unprecedented online interaction on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. Since most of the communication occurs online, many youths have found the urgency in constructing new social identities that concur with the information they selectively avail on their social media pages. Online interactions allow individuals to actively portray their actions, age and what they really care about in a bid to gain respect acceptance and recognition from their peers. Therefore social media, for example, Facebook and Twitter have a major influence on how people construct their identities.
Social media is an integral part of our lives today since it is a tool for communication, interaction, education, and even work relations. People have a hard time when it comes to avoiding any online presence thus constructing identities that will suit their online profiles and preferences. According to Lowry employment agencies tend to hire people depending on their social media presence. Many companies look for their interviewees Facebook or linked in pages to find information before making the decision to hire. Thus they evaluate a person’s competency with the information they find in their social media profiles. Many people, therefore, create identities that will favor them when it comes to job interviews. Hanaike states that, “You know the person you’re going to meet is somewhere close in the building preparing for you, maybe by looking you up on Facebook or Googling your name, possibly reading an embarrassing entry about you on your mom’s blog or being surprised to not find you on Linkedin (Lowry). Hanaike further adds that it is hard for anyone to be themselves where and when they want. This is because every action one does might end up on the social media and receive negative judgment. These reasons make Hanaike believe it is crucial to alter one's identity.
While many millennials construct different identities due to work-related issues some change their identities to gain respect and acceptance from their fellow peers. Boyd asserts that when teens choose to join different social media platforms like Facebook, My Space or Twitter there are certain factors they highly consider. Boyd posits that most teenagers tend to look for sites that identify with ‘people like me’. The phrase ‘people like me’ include the phrase include tastes, preferences, social status, and values that identify with that of their peers or friends. Other teens that do not fit into these categories are always placed in a lesser hierarchy. Such social categorization may have negative effects on teenagers when they fail to differentiate between reality and idealism. So many teenagers will spend most of their time living a lie on the internet thus interfering with their normal life routine. Reconciling identities is not an easy task, many people have to worth extra hard to convince their immediate family and friend that they are what they are in their social media pages. As Boyd states teenagers live a double life where the online identity is more fun, professional, and adventurous while their offline identity is boring and stressful. Such identities affect perceptions and what people think of others. As Boyd states social media is quite persistent in reinforcing social stratification in the society. The social stratification is evident in terms of social class, race, education levels, and the different types of social media people use. For example, Craig states that “The higher caste of high school moved to Facebook. It was more cultured and less cheesy. The lower class usually were content to stick to My Space.” Such connotations foster the development of a negative perception about people who choose to use MySpace.
The selfie culture is an ongoing phenomenon that allows people to post their self-taken images on social media platforms (Shah, Reena, and Tewari). Selfies are a tool for communication where individuals communicate about theory lives to other people in form of images. However, selfie images influence many teenagers in a negative way and affect people’s perceptions. Teenagers use these selfie images to attract the attention of other teenagers as well as command popularity. Teenagers who post a lot of self-images on the internet tend to be narcissists. Shah, Reena, and Tewari state that selfie phenomena lead to narcissism among the teenagers since they desire to look attractive to others. Shah, Reena, and Tewari also posit that when teenagers get the obsession of looking attractive they also tend to ignore important aspects of their lives like safety. There are numerous reported cases of teenagers who got into accidents while taking self-images to post online (Shah, Reena, and Tewari). Selfie taking habits also lead to psychopathy in teenagers. The desire to have a greater following on social media and gain popularity has made many teenagers go to extreme measures to gain popularity. Shah, Reena, and Tewari state that many teenagers in the recent past have uploaded self-take portraits where they have committed the crime. Such actions show that many teenagers lack empathy and can easily resolve to the violence of any nature to gain popularity among their peers. The selfie trend is as rampant as many teenagers want to alter how other people perceive them in the society. They want to show people that they are having fun even when they are actually missing out on the important parts of their lives.
Conversely, despite all the negative influence social media might have on the personal identity of an individual it is quite important when it comes to product endorsements. The social media is an effective advertising medium many companies study the trends and patterns of the users to identify what products would sell and also personalize advertisements for different individuals on the platforms (Nam-Hyun). Many celebrities take images of themselves with the products they are promoting showing that they favor the products. Such activities help in marketing particular products to people who identify with the celebrities. This shows that despite the negative impact that social media has on many teenagers when used responsibly it is an important platform that can yield positive results for many people.
In conclusion, Lowry states that social media is a platform that helps in giving a voice to people who are shy and may not have a platform to communicate. When used in the right manner social media helps not only in interaction but also a forum for education for many individuals. Teenagers and millennials need to learn about its importance and shun creating false identities that may ruin their lives in the future.
Boyd, Danah. "Implications of User Choice: The Cultural Logic of" MySpace or Facebook?"." Interactions
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Lowry, Rachel. "Straddling Online and Offline Profiles, Millennials Search for Identity." DeseretNews.com, 2 June 2013, www.deseretnews.com/article/865581034/Straddling-online-and-offline-profiles-millennials-search-for-identity.html.
Shah, Reena, and Ruchi Tewari. "Demystifying ‘selfie’: a rampant social media activity." Behaviour & Information Technology 35.10 (2016): 864-871.
Um, Nam-Hyun. "Predictors of the effectiveness of celebrity endorsement on Facebook." Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal 44.11 (2016): 1839-1850.
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