The internet. We mostly live in it. We wake up, check our Facebook profile or Instagram page, and as we turn over, we see our loved one doing the same. We go to work where most of us will be glued to a screen for most of the day while checking our device. Even things you didn’t know was a social media experience are now.
So what do you mean the internet affect my identity? I hear you say.
Well, dear reader let me explain. See your social media is fragmenting the way you imagine yourself. For example, all the cool young kids are on Instagram, so there you’ll want to be received as young and on-trend. Whereas on Facebook you have all your work colleagues and there you can’t be posting drunk selfies of yourself holding that kebab on the toilet at 5 am. It’s a hilarious picture, but you don’t feel that your boss and aunt Jean would feel the same. That is where you are splitting yourself, and this is where your consumer identity comes into play.
See Facebook knows you, knows you very well, and they know you love True Blood and are secretly in love with Joe Jonas. Yes, my search history may not give these things away to the untrained eye, but Facebook is watching.
Solomon, a leading expert in consumer psychology, says there are two identities that we have, our ideal self and our actual self. This concept means that we have only two personalities, one that we are and the one we want to be. Based on our real self we choose products that covert this identity, but we also buy other products to fit our ideal self. The difference between the products brought is that products we buy for our ideal self are necessary for this identity, they might base these on the people depicted in the advertising or as models of achievement or appearance. Sethna and Blythe expanded on this concept, and they say that five senses create someone’s identity. Sight (what we wear and how we look for example, makeup, etc.), hearing (what accent we have, what words we use), smell (if we wear perfume or deodorant), touch (the texture of our skin, whether we wear clothes that are silky or rough) and taste (mouth wash or lipstick). We can achieve most of these senses through a product or service.
May all sound fine, but when we split our identity, it makes it harder to feel things. We ground our selves by finding what is real in life. Social media isn’t that. Two hundred eighty characters do not constrict you in real life, you are not put in a 1080p box, and you’re not subject to community guidelines. But exposure to your personality is online. You sell yourself, your identity to these platforms. Even Medium is a social media. I’m putting a part of my personality into this very post.
Don’t define yourself, by the pictures you post and the statuses you write. It’s very well and good to write something that one person sees. Your identity is what is being sold back to you, and the restrictions that are brought into the creation of your identity online will never reflect you as a person. Online social media can reflect no one’s true identity, and that is why we split ourselves.
Next time you post that picture, just think to yourself, what side of myself do I show? And do I want to be more open with whom I am on social media or do I want to be closed? These are questions you should ask yourself.