Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Digital Identity

Technology in the last 10-20 years has almost completely taken over the world. The United States has remained at the forefront of technological advances, with brands such as Apple and Microsoft leading the way. Many use social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr to keep in touch with people, which others may use sites such as YouTube and Instagram for recreational use. More and more time is being spent online, with people creating personal and business accounts, meaning that more of our lives is being lived on the internet than ever before. The below graph shows which social networking sites are frequently used by US adults, and how much news they receive from using them.


Founded in 2004, Facebook has easily become one of the most used social media websites in the world. People use Facebook for many different reasons, ranging from keeping in touch with friends and family, to promoting and getting work for businesses. Within the US alone, 64% of Adults use Facebook, with 30% of those using it to get news and information. The below graph details a breakdown of what kinds of news people find out about on Facebook on a daily basis.

These online social networking sites allow the individual to portray themselves as they wish to be seen, as you can create a new online identity and persona for yourself which you can hide behind. However, this can be dangerous, as it allows for people to speak freely which although may seem a good idea, can lead to negative things such as cyber-bullying and racism. People often seem more outspoken and braver when they can hide behind the safety of a computer screen, as they are not in direct contact with the person they are attacking. This can make 'policing' the internet a difficult task, as most cases of online harassment may go unnoticed unless they are reported by the victim. The victim may however not feel comfortable reporting what has happened, or feel like it is such as issue because it's a fairly taboo subject which many aren't fully aware of. Nonetheless, cyberbulling is an issue which has arisen from the ability of anonymity online.

Having an online digital identity is a very American idea, as it connects to Crèvecœur's ideas of remaking yourself and becoming a new person. You can reinvent yourself again and again, through online gaming and forums, erasing the old version of yourself and starting anew. People who have had a tough time in the 'real world', for example have been bullied for their weight, can recreate themselves online in a way they would like to be seen, making them feel comfortable and better about themselves. However, this could lead to addiction, and a toxic way of living. With technology becoming increasingly mobile, users can take the internet with them wherever they go. In January 2014, 90% of Americans owned a mobile phone, and of that, 63% of users use their phones to go online. This means that people can quite literally take their digital identity everywhere they go, and can become addicted to checking and updating it on a frequent basis. Here is a breakdown of what US adults use their mobile phones to do, most of which involve using the internet and updating digital identities. 


To conclude, with increasing technological advances, more and more time is being spent on the internet, whether it be for work or recreational use. The internet can be used anywhere the user desires thanks to the growing popularity of smartphones and tablets, however this can create a negative effect, as people become disconnected from each other and purely begin to live their lives online. 

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