MySpace, MyIdentity

25 Sep

For many teens, fitting in becomes the number one goal in their adolescent lives. In recent years, many teens have found themselves establishing themselves on SNS (Social Networking Sites) such as Twitter, Facebook, or MySpace through the usage of profiles that display their picture, biography, interests, and favorites. From a combination of all of these things, people viewing the profiles develop their own ideas about who that person really is and what they are really like. In high school, identity is important to and completely tied to social status, making what people decide to put on their profiles even more important to the average high school student. MySpace in particular has a higher means of determining a teenager’s identity in the eyes of their peers, mostly due to the features such as top friends, blog posts, profile songs, and the choice of layout and names on the profile.

Every generation has had an item or possession that determined whether or not in the eyes of peers if a person was cool. This generation, it is the online social network profile, as Donah Boyd writes “by early 2006, many considered participation on the key social network site, MySpace, essential to being seen as cool at school.” She then goes on to point out that “the rapid adoption of social network sites by teenagers in the United States and in many other countries around the world raises some important questions” such as “why do teenagers flock to these sites?” and “what are they expressing on them?” (423). The best answer that can be reached is to establish an identity of their own and to gain control of that identity and what aspects of it that people can see. As Boyd points out, “in conveying who we are to other people, we use our bodies to project information about ourselves. This is done through movement, clothes, speech, and facial expressions. What we put forward is our best effort at what we want to say about who we are” (431).

The reason I feel most teenagers escape to social network sites and away from reality and interpersonal communication face-to-face is that it becomes easier to assume an identity because no one can really identify who you are if you do not let them. That is, unless you refuse to let someone view your profile or engage in conversations with you, at a length of your choosing of course, then no one can truly tell what you are like. For adolescents, the desire to be and feel accepted is compounded by a need to change who you are to fit in and to hide or deny aspects of your personality that would otherwise alienate you from your peers. What this shows is that “to be cool on MySpace is part of the more general desire to be validated by one’s peers. Even though teens theoretically have the ability to behave differently online, the social hierarchies that regulate ‘coolness’ offline are also present online” (433). With this ability to categorize, MySpace makes this easier to group and classify someone based on their backgrounds on their profile, their interests, what they choose to look and dress like, the content of their blog posts, what their name is, and who they have as their top friends. Does this help with social skills? Somewhat, but it drives a further wedge between self-actualization and the ability to make oneself who they want to be, and what society decides is the ideal category for them.

Works Cited

Boyd, Donah. “Why Youth (Heart) Social Network Sites: The Role of Networked Publics

in Teenage Social Life.” Common Culture: Reading and Writing about American

Popular Culture. Ed. Michael Petracca and Madeleine Sorapure. Sixth ed. Upper

Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2009. 422-444. Print.

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Another amazing bgsu blog

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