Thursday, 22 March 2012

Digital Identities

There are a variety of digital identities available to Americans today, the main ones being blogs, social networking sites and forums. All are ways in which Americans are able to present themselves and their opinions and have had an affect on the way in which information is presented and found out.

Blogs are becoming increasingly popular with sites like Tumblr and Google's own blogger allowing people to create their own blog and air their opinions on particular topics. They allow freedom speech and are easily accessible meaning that your opinion is heard not only by a few people but nationally and often globally. Blogs have become such an embedded part of our society that people now have careers in blogging. Companies often have a blog and hire people specifically to write that blog. Also, it allows celebrities, politicians, authors, journalists etc. to interact with the public on their views or upcoming news and is a much faster and more affective way of communicating information. When blogs first started being used they were often aimed at a niche audience as they tended to have a particular focus i.e football, beauty products, linguistics etc. As they become popularised this element of blogging faded and with the invention of Tumblr, blogs became more general and accessible to wider audience.

Forums are another digital identity available to Americans. Forums again targeted a niche audience when they first begun and to some extent still do. They were often about a specific subject that only people who were interested in and/or knew something about the subject would post on. This has changed slightly with their popularity. Many websites now have forums for anyone to post on, for example magazine websites like Cosmopolitan or Glamour have the option to comment on articles posted to start discussion and this often true of newspaper websites, making the target audience group much wider. Again, like blogs forums allow freedom of speech on a much bigger scale than ever before. They allow for discussion of topics that previously would not have nearly as much popularity 10 years ago and this discussion can be global, connecting the world and allowing people to hear about issues that they would not have been aware of previously.

Social networking sites are probably the most popular form of digital identity available to Americans. Sites such as Facebook and Twitter have changed the way in which people communicate, the way in which information is discovered and again the way in which people air their opinions. For anyone that has seen the Kony 2012 video, you will know that there are now more people on Facebook than there were on Earth 200 years ago. The sheer popularity of Facebook evidences that the world and have changed the way in which we want to communicate and attain information, no one more so than the Americans. Would Facebook have ever become the phenomenon that it is today without being invented and then popularised by the Americans? I don't think so. Where America goes the world follows and luckily for Mark Zuckerburg the world went to Facebook. Facebook allows us to communicate with people across the world, friends, family members and people we do not even know! We might not be on the same continent but we know what these people are doing through their Facebook status or check in. Recently The Guardian, The Independent and The Washington Post have been made available to read for free on Facebook meaning that the demand for newspapers is now less and also showing that the newspapers saw an opportunity to gain more readers across a wider age range and social background. Twitter is another social networking site that has had a massive affect on the way the world communicates. At only 6 years old Twitter has 350 million users (as of June 2011) spanning right across the world. The most significant aspect of Twitter is probably how quickly information can spread and how it is often the first place to find out about major news stories. For example, Whitney Houston's death was reported on Twitter 28 minutes before any major news station. Also the riots in middle east were all organised using Twitter, when the riots hit London back in 2011 they were organised and reported using Twitter. This affirms that the way in which we communicate has changed dramatically in the last 6 years and that ideas are able to spread at a much quicker rate than ever before.

All of these forms of digital identities have seemingly enhanced the world and made it a more connected place however is it all what it seems? Online, people have the flexibility to present themselves however they want. Your profile picture doesn't even have to be you if you don't want it to be! And lets face it, when it comes to profile pictures you are not going to put an "ugly" photo of yourself up because that is not how you want people to view you. As human beings we try to make ourselves look as good as possible; so essentially a person's Facebook profile is them showing you all the good things about their life. Despite blogs, forums and tweets allowing you freedom of speech there is always going to be controversy around what you say. Can you be bothered to deal with people, half the time who you don't even know wanting a huge argument with you over what you typed? I know I can't. Therefore people often limit what they write or say online to save conflict although don't get me wrong, there are people out there who are the complete opposite and write something that will spark to debate just for the fun of it! But then is that not what these places are for?

Identity in the future of America is probably going to be one that is conveyed via social networking sites, forums and blogs. Even the President has a Twitter and Facebook page! And I believe that this communication through the screen will continue and if anything grow. Sure there will be new social networking sites developed and others will die out just like Myspace and Bebo but nevertheless they will continue. Aspects of everyday life are likely to also die out because with the internet we do not need them anymore, newspapers, supermarkets even fast food chains will become an online thing; they already are but they will just become even more popular. As I mentioned before, where America goes generally the rest of the world follows. Therefore as long as the United States still hold some form of power, we are still going to communicate via this blog, add each other on Facebook and retweet each other's tweets. Our identity will be just as virtual as America's, that's if it already isn't!

No comments:

Post a Comment