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The Impact of Social Media on Identity Construction

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Patrick White

on 13 May 2014

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Transcript of The Impact of Social Media on Identity Construction

Social Identity
The social identity theory suggests that ‘individuals strive to maintain or enhance their self esteem; they strive for a positive self concept' (Tajifel and Turner,1979)

In previous generations who were without the internet, would have to prove that they achieved something by actually doing it to receive the recognition and gratification.

The introduction of online social networking in the 21st century has added a new dimension to the theory of social identity as people are given a chance to effectively portray themselves, what they do, what they care about and even how old they are inaccurately in order to receive recognition, gratification or acceptance.

Online Media, Culture & Networks Effect on Identity
Social media has caused people to move away from their real self-identities due to negative messages diplayed by the media and other social forces. Dobson (2002) suggests that self-identity is a ‘global understanding someone has of themselves (and) is composed of relatively permanent self-assessments.’

In previous generations social forces and media messages influencing people’s self-identities were a lot more positive and far outweighed the negative (Taylor, 2011). Popular culture has also had a massive impact on identity and has created ‘portraits of who it wants us to be’ (Taylor, 2011). This leads to people shielding certain information that they think will not be accepted by what their peers or other groups of people might think of them

This behavior can be related to the networking theory or the social networking theory as people and groups who surround or are close to each other ‘share the same characteristics, values and social statuses’ (Kadushin, 2012).
The Idea of Having a 'Second Self'

With the growing popularity of online social networks, they have brought with them developments in identity construction in the form of users creating an avatar or 'second self.'

Having an online ‘self’ or avatar enables people's identities to be ‘entirely generated by what can be typed or posted in images and text.’ (Jones & Holmes,2011)

This enables online users the power to create themselves as someone who does not mirror who they are in reality.

Friendster (2002) was the first modern social networking website to gain mass popularity, after only 3 months it had 3 million users.

It was also the first popular, non-dating social networking website to contain personalized profiles with an array of customizable information that was visible to other members of the site.
The Introduction of Social Media and its impact on Identity Construction.
By Patrick White
Image from
The inception of online social networking has been a revolutionary stepping stone in the history of communication.

It has changed the way we construct our identities and how we portray ourselves to other people through digital mediums.

This is an insight into how people become different through online social networking.

The Introduction of Modern Online Social Networking Websites: The Beginning to Now...

From Friendster to Facebook
Facebook currently is now at the forefront of social networking websites and this is due to their easy-to-use interface and the continuous innovation of their features and layout.

Facebook lets users customize nearly every aspect of their profile with personal and impersonal information which is used to create an online or 'second' identity.

Image from
Image from <https://www.facebook.com/>
Images from <http://comicalconcept.com/illustrations/the-facebook-you> <http://www.smosh.com/smosh-pit/photos/facebook-you-vs-real-you>
Identity: Are you the Same Person Online & Offline?
Henry's Story: Creating Online Identities
Image from <http://allfacebook.com/chase-contest-fraud_b10256>
Image from <http://lensaunders.com/habit/peerpressure.html>
I Like You In Real Life (But Not on the Internet)
Chapman,C, 2009, ‘The History and Evolution of Social Media, blog post,’ Webdesignerdepot, 7 October, viewed 11 October 2013, <http://www.webdesignerdepot.com/2009/10/the-history-and-evolution-of-social-media/>

Dobson, A, 2002, ‘Who am I? – Building Personal Character,’ blog post, Mindfit Hypnosis, Viewed on 11 October 2013, < http://www.mindfithypnosis.com/who-am-i-self-identity>

Holmes, D & Jones, P 2011, Key concepts in media and communications, Sage, London.

Kadushin, C, 2012, Understanding Social Networks, Google Books, Oxford University Press, New York.

Lindley, E, 2013, ‘Is Social Networking Redefining Identity?’, blog post, RSA, January 24, Viewed on 14 October 2013, < http://www.rsablogs.org.uk/2013/socialbrain/social-networking-redefining-identity/>

Tajifel, H, Turner, J, 1979, Differentiation Between Social Groups: Studies in the Social Psychology of Intergroup Relations, Academic Press, London.

Taylor, J, 2011, ‘Technology: Is Technology Stealing our (Self) Identities,’ blog post, Dr. Jim Taylor, 27 July, Viewed on 12 October 2013, <http://drjimtaylor.com/2.0/technology/technology-is-technology-stealing-our-self-identities/>
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