More and more social networking sites and the online world are becoming increasingly advanced and intense. For me I can remember when the Internet and connecting through social media became an integral part of my youth. In the early years of high school I remember rushing home to go on MSN and connect with my “friends”. Some people on my friends list were in my class or on my sports teams, but others were people from different schools or friends of friends who I never met personally. Though talking to people you have not met online possesses many dangers, it was nothing like it is today. Facebook, MySpace and twitter make MSN seem so juvenile now that I look back. The social networking sites we use today know more about us then our best friends or parents might, and what we do not realize is these sites hold hostage all of our information, pictures, and interactions. What is it about social networking that is so addicting and leaves people obsessing and unable to stay away? In Turkle’s article Looking Toward Cyberspace: Beyond Grounded Technology she believes that it is the freedom of being able to mold and shape your identity online however you want it, which gives one the liberty to say and write how they feel with little repercussions. Different online identities allow for us to invent and mold ourselves into someone we want to be, express ourselves on topics and say how we feel, things which we feel limited to in our everyday lives. Social networking affects people in various ways, and is now becoming a part of child and adolescent development, it changes how youth find and create their identities; what was once done through actual physical relationships is now done through cyberspace and the connections and interactions we have on Facebook. In Turkle’s article looking Toward Cyberspace she supports this notion by stating “it is fashionable to think that we have shifted from psycho-analytic culture to computer culture-that we no longer need to think in terms of Freudian slips but rather in information processing errors” (1999, p. 647). I find this to be completely true, especially in relation to understanding youth, if teachers or parents etc. are unfamiliar with the internet and social networking, they will fail to be connected and unable to understand what goes on with adolescents today, as identity and personality have taken on a whole new meaning.
In terms of my own personal social media use, I attempt to not to be consumed by it, and still believe in the importance of human contact. In Turkle’s article The Flight from Conversation (2012), she discusses this and how we have become accustomed to “being alone together” which I find to be completely true. We think we are all connected through our interactions on social media, but we have completely lost the importance of physical conversation. Also in Turkle’s Article Places we don’t want to go, she talks about encounters with adolescents and how they feel more comfortable turning to technology then they would with people in the physical world. Being so consumed with interacting over cyberspace has also allowed us to talk less intelligently to get our points across and quickly according to Turkle, and personally this scares me. If you think about how much we have evolved with technology already, I am worried to know how our communication skills are going to be in another 50 years. The fact that my social media activities are under constant surveillance definitely influences my online identity. My own personal rule for myself is that I do not post anything online or on social networking sites that I would not say in the physical world, my online identity is pretty accurate to my identity in real life. I find it important not to post personal and private information online, and think that people should consider what they really want people knowing about them, because once its thrown out there, its there forever.
Cyberspace and Identity Sherry Turkle Contemporary Sociology Vol. 28, No. 6 (Nov., 1999), pp. 643-648
Sherry Turkle. The Flight From Conversation. New York Times Sunday Review. April 21, 2012
Places we don’t want to go: Sherry Turkle at TED2012 http://blog.ted.com/2012/03/01/places-we-dont-want-to-go-sherry-turkle-at-ted2012/