Social Media Is More ‘Personal’ Than ‘Social’. Critically Examine This Claim Vis-a-Vis Its Cultural Implication for the Shaping of Our Cultural Identities.

Topics: Culture, Sociology, Internet Pages: 10 (3023 words) Published: May 3, 2013
Jamie Gartland
Student Number: 11388466

CM227 Assignment 1
Due 14th of December

Social Media is more ‘personal’ than ‘social’. Critically examine this claim vis-a-vis its cultural implication for the shaping of our cultural identities.

Base your research on a critical reading of contemporary academic writings on social media.


“His mind slid away into the labyrinthine world of doublethink. To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them; to use logic against logic…”

-George Orwell, ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’

The prevalence of social media has led to developments in the way in which we communicate with each other and the way in which we view ourselves. This essay will investigate how social media has become a place where identity is formed and culture is created in contemporary society. The particular issues that will be discussed are the creation of culture and identity online, the reasons for the creation of online spaces, and the possible outcomes thereof, both beneficial and detrimental.

With the opportunity to construct a self-image online come many consequent opportunities. There is the chance to omit, exaggerate, glorify and nullify certain details about oneself in a self-effigy which is available for anyone you wish to make it visible to. Naturally this transforms the way in which people communicate with each other, as it is communication on a whole new plane. Face-to-face interaction is forsaken and in its place is a new realm of interactions where people speak to one another virtually. As real life communication is marginalised, many of its associated fears and drawbacks are eliminated. It is described as a silent world, where conversation is typed, and to enter it, one forsakes body and place and becomes a thing of words alone (Rushkoff, 1994).

The Internet has overcome space and time, creating a world where we can communicate with each other and live out some of our offline desires, for example friendship, interaction, community and public life (Jones, 1997). The nature of the Internet is intrinsically communicative. Its primary objectives must therefore be to provide a database for information, and a space for communication, collaboration and appraisal, in order to better society and global knowledge. Jones suggests that the subsequent improvement in communication should result in the curing various social problems, which apparently arise form a lack of communication.

“The Internet would thus make community better. It was to result in a community free of the contraints of space and time, and so free us to engage with fellow humans irrespective of geographic proximity and the clock” (Jones, 1997)

There are further implications as Douglas Shluer (1996) forecasts, “life will be happier for the online individual because the people with whom one interacts most strongly will be selected more by commonality of interests and goals than by accidents of proximity.” Shluer, however, neglects to mention the value of communication with people whom have not been carefully chosen. It is these relationships, which may often be ones of conflict and disagreement, in which real issues may be addressed, and new ideas may occur. Conflict is inevitable, and it is a precursor for change. History is made when opposites come together and there becomes an issue which is to be resolved, but if people are to socialize only with other like-minded people, then there will be less conflict, and therefore less cause for change. A possible outcome of this is the vast fragmentation of society.

If people of similar mindsets are kept to each other through the filter of social networking then it can be assumed that there will be a vast proliferation of cultural identities,...
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