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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Instructional Computing II Journal 2: Identity

How do we define who we are, and shape or reaffirm our identity using social networks? 

The readings this week were very "adolescent centric." Adolescence is a time of social growth and burgeoning personal identity.  Growing up in the 21st century is markedly more complex for teens as they find their place both in the real world and digital world.  Being a teenager is one of the most confusing and alienating times in your life.  During those pivotal years, we want to feel a connection and know that someone else feels the same.  Teens can now turn to social networks to find support, friends, and like-minded individuals. The idea behind creating an online social networking profile is in a sense a form of identity formation (Boyd, 2007). 

In the creation of a profile we are able to express aspects of our personality that we want the world to know about.  Sometimes people choose to embellish parts of themselves, some are honest, and perhaps others choose to leave out part of themselves they do not wish to share.  After the creation of the account we create connections and communicate with others.  The posting on walls, leaving comments, and messaging components further exhibit ones personality and how well we can interact with others. 

Along with the great entrenchment in social networking comes the need to protect parts of our identities.  Boyd & Hargittai (2010) spoke about the need for adolescents to protect their private information.  The good news is more teens are protecting their identity more than we think which is hopeful.  The older I get the more I realize I need to take a step back and be sure to weed out the accounts I no longer use or the delete the "friends" who I really don't need to be concerned with these days.  My internet identity used to play a larger role in my life, perhaps because I was younger and felt isolated and wanted to reach out to people via the internet.  Now I keep to myself, don't post as many photos, rarely blog about personal matters.  My life has changed and my digital identity has changed as well.

Five years past the publication of Boyd's articles and I believe that we are now creating a personal brand for ourselves, not just an identity.  I feel that personal branding is taking the social networking identity a step further.  Our Facebook profile pictures match our Twitter icons, which matches the header on your Tumblr too.  There would be a matching YouTube channel and corresponding Spotify account for media.  We have social media packages, all bundled with matching accounts, avatars, and passwords.  Teens today are taking social media as we know it and stretching it way further than we had imagined.  They want to famous on the Internet; a phenomenon we have never seen until recently.

While I am still very involved in social networking and the internet, I don't feel the need to be so deeply engrossed in personal branding as when I was younger.  Boyd (2007) describes how teens used a small loophole to customize their Myspace pages with their own code and photos.  I think I am past that stage of my life and into the phase where social networking has taken on a more utilitarian purpose in my life.  If the site doesn't offer a service that I can't live with out, then forget about it! 

Here are the sites I use and their corresponding uses:
Facebook = connect to friends/ spy on people from my past (haha)
Pinterest = remember recipes, crafts, and clothing I want to purchase
Tumblr = follow really fashionable girls and steal their looks
Twitter = follow some really amazing Ed Tech superstars and hear about all the trends
Instagram = share photos and see what everyone else is doing with photos
Blogger = school work!

I think my social network quota is pretty full at this point!  My identity is shaped well enough thank you very much!

Boyd, D. (2007). “Why youth love social network sites: The Role of Networked Publics in Teenage Social Life." Youth, Identity, and Digital Media. Edited by David Buckingham. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Boyd, D. & Hargittai, E. (2010). "Facebook privacy settings: Who cares?"
First Monday, Volume 15, Number 8 - 2 August 2010

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