In my Writing class we’ve been going over our identity in cyber space and in the “meat” world. A couple of the readings we’ve had to go over have really made me think twice about my myself, who I am, and especially how I present myself to the world via social media. My favorite essay I read, and one that genuinely piqued my interest was, “Identity, Social Networks and Online Media” by Guy Merchant. In his essay he discussed how social networks are affecting our identifies. Essentially the question posed regarded if social media is creating new identities or are we just enhancing our multifaceted identities?
Before I could begin to answer that I thought about what is the human identity? Is it what people know us by? Is it what we think of ourselves? Is it an eternal being tied to our race, gender, and other anchored attributes? I say it is all of the above. I believe identity is something that encompasses all thoughts regarding ourselves and our anchored qualities. It is the things that if they were taken away from a person would make a person not themselves. Or as my professor says, Sine qua non (without which not).
Today when you don’t know someone where do you venture? Largely, more and more people are using social media networks to research those who they don’t know. Facebook, twitter, even Instagram are the first places my peers travel to get a quick overview of who a person is. This alone speaks to the trust that people have towards social media.We trust that when we visit someone’s profile or page they are honestly portraying themselves through posts, pictures, etc. This trust makes a safe foundation for people to construct themselves, and their narrative through social networks. Through sites such as Facebook we share posts and share what we like, and tell everything about ourselves that we would like others to see. Rarely does one share something with their cyber-audience that would make themselves look bad, at-least knowingly.
This makes me believe we are in a period where everyone is trying to present the “best” of themselves. Whatever that may mean to the person, and to the audience they are trying to reach. Now that Facebook has the new editing feature it is just another step into the idea of perfecting your online identity. Say you posted something politically incorrect, rude, insensitive, or you simply didn’t like what you said, you now have three options. First you could delete it; wipe your slate clean. Secondly, you could hide it from your timeline, maybe you like the comments or you don’t want to lose that memory. Or lastly, and this one has become popular, you could simply edit the post. This way if you have a lot of likes, and don’t want to get rid of the post completely you can tweak it to fit your needs. Unlike the real world, the digital world is leading towards perfection. If you say something regrettable to a group of people, you can’t just delete it from time, or “edit” what you said. You have to own up to your words, and take responsibility for whatever you may have said. Since social media moves around this loop-hole we now have people who seem like super humans. People who are posting things that snags them praise, and whole profiles of lives tailored to show off their best (think, best day of my life pictures). In this new age identity is malleable to our needs, and as more people adapt to this idea, I can’t help but wonder if we will lose honesty, and adapt the mentality that our lives need to be perfect.