“The rise of digital media, the transformation of ‘old’ media into digital and the ongoing developments in digital technology” (Merrin, W 2009). As technology continue to evolve and social media continue to grow, more and more individuals find themselves faced with creating an online identity. Representing who they are, what they’re like and how they choose to portray themselves.
Over recent years, social media began to transform individuals every day life, going from a part-time habit to an essential part of ones daily routine, whether that includes checking Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, the list goes on. People are now using such platforms to broadcast there every move; every selfie and every arrangement choosing too share these with friends, colleagues and other ‘random acquaintances’ they have on their friend list. To date, Twitter has a whopping 255 million active users who send collectively 500 million tweets each and everyday! (Ajmera, H 2015). Furthermore, there are more than 50 million Facebook pages. Is these statistics aren’t crazy enough; there are over 20 billion photos that have been uploaded to Instagram (Ajmera, H 2015).
Identity has many definitions, you are who you are. Identity is based on your characteristics, where you were born, the school you attended, the religion you belong to, some of these characteristic never change however, some may change over time. Nevertheless, your online identity is not the same as your ‘real world’ identity. Internet users are able to shield themselves behind and electronic veil of anonymity, they are able to take on any persons they please. Such personas are usually socially constructed – meaning Internet users can make profiles for themselves, which differ from their own individual characteristics represented in the real world.
This begs the question, are you safe online? Are you taking the necessary steps to protect yourself, you information? More Australians are finding themselves victims to identity crime. Such crimes taking place over “trustworthy” sites such as internet banking, online shopping and through sending emails – actions in which million of people do a day without questioning. An alarming new survey by the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) shows that 1 in 5 Australian have had their personal information misused in the last year. However, these are not the only issues individuals are faced with online. Identity theft and catfishing are major issue people face today, the phenomenon of Internet predators building online identities with the intent of tricking people into emotional and potential romantic relationships is rising, so much so there has been a television show made.
Today’s generation of children and adolescence have grown up being instantly attached to the notion of belling always connected and always on “digital communication forms, messaging content and activities personalized and individually immediately available” (Merrin, W 2009). This stems back to our dependency on social media and our daily ritual of checking it.
In terms of privacy, some individuals are willing to share more information about themselves. However for others, that process can be rather daunting. As for me, a relatively active individual on social media. Checking Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat the second
my alarm goes off in the morning. I still find myself fearful of Internet predators, having my privacy setting set to the highest possible across all platforms.
Fleur Gabriel re-enforces that fact that you cannot always control what happens to ones personal content once it has been uploaded. As for me, the preconceived notion I have of the Internet comes from my father re-enforcing, “the Internets a dangerous place, you don’t know who’s out there”. Maybe this stems from his childhood and the fact that his media world as a child was pretty much non-existent compared to mine and its vast differences.
Nevertheless each and every user should be aware of the potential risk. My digital identity is much the same as who I am. On Instagram, yes I post photos of myself, however I do not edit them nor do I use filters. Facebook on the other hand, I post very rarely, however, I find myself checking it many times a day.
Psychologists from Auburn University found that information of peoples Facebook show the users accurate character, their personal data and photos that they have been tagged in brings a very precise impression of who that person is (Brown V & Vaughn E, 2011). Furthermore, other platform like YouTube, I more as a bystander or a spectator, watching but not taking part. Alternatively, I use Skype and FaceTime, these are to talk to people who I really know. My digital identity has many limitations, I am rarely willing to provide my personal information, I was pretty late to the whole Facebook, Instagram game, and found myself signing up for Twitter last Tutorial (much to my dismay). Furthermore, I find myself able to maintain relationships online with especially with family members who live overseas. Despite my lack of trust of the Internet, I do find myself staying update with the latest social trends. However in the future, I hope to be a more active user.
Ajmera, H 2015, Latest Social Media users stats, facts and numbers for 2014 – Digital Insights, 6th July 2015
Brown, Victoria R., and E. Daly Vaughn. ‘The Writing On The (Facebook) Wall: The Use Of Social Networking Sites In Hiring Decisions’. J Bus Psychol 26.2 (2011): 219-225. Web. 9 Aug. 2015.
Gabriel, F. (2014). Sexting, selfies and self-harm: Young people, social media and the performance of self-development. Media International Australia, Incorporating Culture & Policy, (151), pp.104 – 112.
Merrin, W 2009, ‘Media Studies 2.0: upgrading and open-sourcing the discipline’, Interactions: Studies in Communication and Culture, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 17-34