Social Media and Identity
Identity is a vital constituent of any person’s life due to allowing individuals to see their roles in various groups and society. The enactment of identity is performed through people’s communication with others and the relationships between the participants of this communication process. Social media plays an important role in the construction of identity. The impact of social media on people’s identity is made through individual and collective differentiators that make it possible for people to relate themselves to specific groups or communities.
Social media have several advantages over traditional means of sharing information. The biggest asset of social platforms is the number of users that one can share opinions with or whose feedback one can receive within a short time. As a result, it is easy for social websites to affect the way people construct their identities. According to Gündüz, social media promote the “expression, exploration, and experimentation” of identity (85). It is difficult not to agree with the opinion of this scholar. First of all, it is easier for individuals to express their identity on the Internet since there are no place or time restrictions. One can post a picture or video, share a link, or join some group, and it will immediately become known to other users. Declaring one’s views, likes, or dislikes, is a part of identity expression. By doing so, people inform others of their preferences and social groups with which they associate themselves.
The process of exploring identity by means of social media is related to the possibility of viewing the unlimited amount of content. However, this activity is not limited by people’s search for their identification. Social platforms are also exploited by users and organizations to seek individuals with common opinions and attitudes (Gündüz 87). As a result, social media become the “active power” that helps to establish communities of like-minded users (Gündüz 87). This function of social platforms helps both to develop the identity and look for those who support similar ideas.
Another important role of social platforms is the possibility of experimenting with identity. Sometimes, a person does not know exactly on what side of the argument he or she is or what resolution to a conflict he or she would prefer. In such cases, users can try themselves in different roles until they make sure which one they prefer. It is possible to join a variety of virtual communities and see which of them suits the person best (Gündüz 88). Experimentation, along with expression and exploration, helps individuals to establish their identities.
Because of the rapid development of social communities, there is a variety of words and word-combinations employed to explain the terms associated with an online identity. Such concepts as “digital identity,” “digital rights and liabilities,” “digital health,” and others are actively used in relation to social media (Gündüz 88-89). These neologisms indicate that the Internet has become an inseparable element in the process of defining identity.
Identity is a crucial component of any person’s life the process of defining which may be promoted by social media. The effect of social platforms on individuals’ identity is produced with the help of both individual and collective differentiators. By using these features, people can relate themselves to particular communities or groups. Thus, the role of social media in the process of identity formulation cannot be overestimated.