Online Identities and the Growth of Social Media

Profile shown on Thefacebook in 2005

Profile shown on Thefacebook in 2005 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

by Michael McDonnell

For many of us, the Internet has become an inescapable part of our everyday lives. For many it has always been an inescapable part of their lives, but what effect has this had on how we view and present ourselves? In the article “Face Value,” Mary Gray (2007) gives us a look at the early days of social media. She names three social media sites. Facebook, MySpace and Friendster, all three of which offered the same basic service, a space online to connect with people in your current real life networks, get to know them more easily and, through posting your own updates or pictures, let people get to know you.

In the intervening seven years, social media has grown. According to a study by the Pew Internet Project, 74% of online adults use social media. Facebook is still the largest single social media site with 71% of online adults using the site. The market has fragmented, however. More social media sites have sprung up to fill perceived gaps in the market. For example, Instagram is a platform for people to post photographs that usually the user has taken themselves. Tumblr allows users to share pictures, videos and articles that they find interesting or to share content that has been posted by people they are connected with. Twitter allows users to post comments or status updates with a maximum of 140 characters.

This proliferation of social media sites has led to the fragmentation of personalities. Gray points out that we have always had multiple facets to our personality that we would portray and allow people to develop an impression of us. The difference is that now, with social media sites, we can better tailor the image we want to portray and emphasize aspects of ourselves to different outlets.

The average person has two social media accounts. Statistically these are most likely to be Facebook and Twitter. Due to their formats, the same message is unlikely to be posted to each platform but must be edited. Facebook allows long form posts, multiple photographs in a post, links etc. Twitter on the other hand limits users to 140 characters per post. This forces users to edit their thoughts, to either cut excess material or reword their thoughts. This cannot be done without extra consideration as to what you want to say. On top of this, each social network has a different user base and communities within it. These different audiences can have an effect on how users portrays themselves.

This division of our personalities across multiple social networks has had the side effect of allowing businesses to integrate themselves more easily into our daily lives. The acceptance of multiple identities has facilitated the creation of multiple accounts being set up to appeal to different parts of the market. A newspaper, rather than just one account, can instead have one for each section, allowing them to deliver information to customers without flooding them with content that does not interest them. The specificity of each social network also makes it easier for businesses to study how they work and integrate their content into the network without negatively disrupting it.

One negative aspect of this change in how we present ourselves is that the increasing disconnect between our online and physical selves makes falsifying our identity or at least aspects of it. It becomes impossible to trust that a person is who they say they are. Also, if our online self becomes more malleable and adjustable, there is more likelihood that it will not mesh with our offline self.

There are definitely good and bad points to the use of social media in this way but whether it will lead to long term problems still remains to be seen. Ellison (2013) describes our online persona as being like an actor on a stage. As more people join multiple social networks, it’s as if we are trying to perform different plays to different audiences at the same time.


Beckland, J. 2011. Why Mainstream Social Networks Complicate Our Identities. Mashable. Available at:

Casserly, M. 2011. Multiple Personalities And Social Media: The Many Faces of Me. Forbes. Available at:

Changizi, M. 2014. Multiple Personality Social Media. Science 2.0. Available at:

Ellison, N. 2013. Future Identities: Changing identities in the UK – the next 10 years. Available at:

Gray, M. 2007. Face Value. Contexts 6(2):73-75.

Lytle, R. (2013). When One Social Network Is Enough. Mashable. Available at:

Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, (2013). Social Networking Fact Sheet. Available at: sheets/social-networking-fact-sheet/

Radacati, S. and Yamasaki, T. (2014). Social Media Market, 2012-2016. Available at:, (2014). Social Networking Statistics | Statistic Brain. Available at:

Unfriended and Unfollowed – How social networking has changed relationship management


(Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

by Anastasia Maillot

Social networking has been the center of controversial discussions and criticism since the concept was born. In her review of Facebook, titled “Face Value”, Mary L. Gray mentions that Facebook users will create bonds on a very loose basis, such as one common interest, and will therefore assume they know the person well enough to “Friend” them. This brings up another rather problematic aspect of Facebook: defriending. Or, when talking about Twitter, unfollowing. This concept has, in my opinion, changed how people, especially younger generations, manage their relationships.

Since the birth of social networking, getting in touch with people has obviously become much easier. A Facebook user has nearly unlimited access to other profiles that can be friended or defriended. Creating ties with extended family or friends or even strangers around the globe has never been this simple. The frightening part is that cutting bonds with those you never want to be involved with again is also much easier. In fact, it is perhaps the most powerful and feared tool in social networking, as it provides no explanation to why you decided to unfriend or unfollow someone. The fact that it’s quick, easy, simple and doesn’t require you to come face to face with the person erases any guilt that might come along. It is also fundamentally different from deleting a person’s phone number, because some social networking sites will notify the user if someone decides to unfollow them. In short, it is a virtual slap on a person’s face, a wordless message that expresses disapproval or rejection.

Moreover, social networking and Internet in general tremendously helps us forget that on the other side of the computer screen is another human being just like us. In other words, Facebook helps us reduce one person into a name written on our computer screen, a pixel object that can be deleted at any time we wish. It is tempting to forget that each day we are dealing with real people, because it makes defriending morally much more acceptable.  But we forget far too often that the Internet is not a separate world, as Barry Wellman states in “Connecting Communities: Off and Online”, but is tightly connected with our real lives and the people around us and can greatly affect our future and our relationships. Whatever happens online will definitely have an impact on our daily lives outside social networks.

At the same time, as we are encouraged to forget we are dealing with real humans, we are also seduced by Facebook into thinking we have solved whatever problem we were having by deleting a friend. We refuse to look deeper inside and think about the real issue in a relationship, because it is too much hassle and requires too much of our energy. Hence, we are not providing other human beings the respect, devotion and honesty they deserve, that we would most likely give them should we communicate with them face to face. These days, however, hectic everyday lives have caused us to forget the importance of true communication in a relationship and has turned it into a “chore” that Facebook helps us take care of, either by ignoring, blocking or unfriending.

The 21st century has brought about many new interesting inventions. Information, friends, family and co-workers are closer than ever to us thanks to social networking. While the positive aspects have been tremendous, it can’t be ignored that the quickness and simplicity of Internet and Facebook have caused us to grow passive and impatient with our relationship management. Relationships are cut off and created on a whim without further thinking and consideration of what we are really doing, undermining the very meaning of friendship and family that once existed. This development is both frightening and alarming and it remains for us to see whether we can preserve our respect for other humans an our relationships even with the increasing development of social networks.

Globalization through Social Media, Any Dangers?

English: Infographic on how Social Media are b...

English: Infographic on how Social Media are being used, and how everything is changed by them. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

by Ji Soo Kim

The time when globalization was done ‘one-way’ by television, radio, films and newspapers has passed. Social media, which refers to interaction among people in which they create, share, and exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks, has developed and extended to every part of our living. Through social media, such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc., I can share, agree, or ‘like’ the news and ideas shared around all over the world and shape my own beliefs through the exercises. It became my daily routine to check the ‘Newsfeeds’ when I wake up in the morning, and ‘Like’ friends’ posts.

The advantages of globalization through social media are countless. We can participate creatively and actively to share our own opinions in media. Free communication discloses different information, and benefit from its speed and variety. Then, here comes the question. Did everyone benefit from the expansion of social media use? Can it be explained only as benefits to our society?

My criticism by answering this question is that globalization through social media leads to selected globalization. Globalization through Social Network Services (SNS) sets a barrier to the poor, the elderly, and is unilateral globalization from the West.

As Facebook is ranked as the most used SNS, I will explain my opinion with using Facebook statistics. Facebook users reached 1.11 billion in March 2013, which is a huge number. It seems like significant proportion of population is communicating through Facebook. Let’s look at the details. (The statistics are from Wikipedia and are based on the end of 2012.) Can we say social media is a true medium in which everyone can freely communicate? 52.9% of the US population utilizes Facebook, while 5.2% of Indian population uses it. In India, due to poverty, Internet users account for 11.37% out of the entire population. This means that the other 88.93% do not have any idea what is happening on the internet world, and thus are excluded from a world which only the rich can afford. Looking at other less developed countries, the situation is not different. Facebook users constitute 8.9% in Bangladesh, 3.9% in Nigeria and 4.2% in Pakistan. These countries are more isolated from the world because they do not have access to Facebook.

It is not only the poverty that restricts people from online communities. Since internet availability is more difficult compared to televisions or radio, and is harder to use, people aging 50 or more suffer from adopting it to daily life. I asked 13 friends, aged 21~23, whether their parents have Facebook accounts. Only 2 responded ‘yes,’ saying that one of their parents has an account. A father of my friend, Younghun Lee (51) answered, “It seems complicated. I have enough people to talk to in real life world. I get annoyed when my son stares into smartphone checking new stuff on Facebook on dinner table. If I want to check news, I turn on TV, If I want to chat with people, I do in face-to-face.” To many, SNS is complicated compared to what we have been using so far, TV, radio, and newspapers. Also, for teenagers, or young adults, social media could be a special zone where you could be free from parents, and express your feelings, but for the parents, it is a zone that sets them far apart from the children and the world.

Reaching my final point, social media was developed mostly in the US. Although Facebook now became a ‘global’ online community, Western citizens still consist the majority of Facebook users, and are the ones that lead online globalization. Developed Asian countries such as Japan show that only 13.5% of the population uses Facebook. South Korea’s Facebook users also remain 20.95%. Statistics support that Western countries use SNS more than other countries. The other countries in Asia and Africa are following the ‘trend’ slowly, trying to catch up with the rest of the Western world. Globalization occurs in Facebook, but unfairly. It is not an intercommunicating globalization, but rather globalization from the US and Europe to other countries.

Social media is considered to be one of the greatest benefits new technology had brought to humanity. That is why the dangers and disadvantages of it is underestimated and left ignored. Disadvantages must not be hidden under the shadow of the advantages because the bigger the dangers grow, the fiercer the dangers become. The online globalization through SNS draws a line between people who can freely use new technology, internet, and those who cannot. We are the young generation who are included in online community, but those excluded cannot have their voices heard to us because they do not have means to share their voice. Those who cannot afford to gain access to internet, find using SNS complicated feel isolated for being unable to participate in the new world. Also, while true globalization is resulted from multilateral interactions, currently, it is done unilaterally from West to the rest of the world. Such dangers SNS has brought to us must not be overlooked, but thought carefully to be examined thoroughly by us, the young generation.

Thoughts on high-tech work

Anonymous student post

High-tech work strives us towards one goal: efficiency. People use high-tech tools which enable them to work faster, practically, and from anywhere around the globe (ex. pc, email, social network, etc…). Companies replace monotonous task work (ex. assembly line) with automated robots and other high tech. Simply put, high tech work is utilized on both a micro and macro level. On a micro level, as noted in the beginning, individual workers equip themselves with high tech tools enabling them to collaborate and work with peers constantly while adapting to the rapid pace of the ever changing climate of business. On a macro level, companies utilize high technology for aiding profit maximization and cutting labor costs. Companies can collect and manage customer data allowing companies to specifically target advertisements towards a user, increasing the rate of consumption rate – Social network giants such as Facebook sell user data to potential advertisers. For labor cuts, as mentioned at the beginning, replacing for example assembly line workers with automated robots is an example.

High tech work – efficiency, speed, profit maximization, cost cuts – sounds good for those who are able to adapt. However, there are concerns, and those are: being permanently ON-LINE, and a means to an end. Let’s start with “permanently ON-LINE.” Although this is case dependent, high tech workers are most likely able to work anywhere (ex. from their mobile / laptops). This may lead to a situation where they end up being permanently  “ON-LINE”, slowly undermining their focus and health. Whereas once the goal was efficiency, the very tools that enable one to become “efficient” carries the risk of becoming the source of “inefficiency.” The second concern I have is that high tech work, or more specifically, the tools that enable workers or companies to embrace high tech work can become a “means to an end.” There are individuals and corporations that develop the contents, tools, applications that make high tech work possible, such as google, apple, microsoft and many other individual or small startups developing apps. There are numerous tools, apps which enables us to work more efficiently, but I wonder, “Do we need more?” “Isn’t this enough?” A lot of hardware and especially software these days tend to have too similar characteristics when compared, which leads me to think, “Is your goal just getting the product out there? Or are you really trying to make people’s lives better?” Whichever the answer, it might be time for the high tech industry to take a step back, and take a deep breath.


The third industrial revolution

This Robot Could Transform Manufacturing

Are the Social Networking Sites Taking Over?

Over the last couple of years, social network sites such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and so on have gained a tremendous amount of popularity, and it’s become more unusual for people not to know or have heard of these sites than otherwise. Why have these pages become so popular? One of the reasons Facebook has been able to become as successful as it is, is probably because of how it satiates our natural curiosity. Through simple pages of information and pictures you feel like you can get to know people and their interests better, creating the illusion that you know them better than you actually do. The social network sites can also give off the illusion of having more friends than one actually has.  Because how many of the people listed as a friend on a social network site is someone you can count on in a dire situation?

Social network sites might make it easier to stay in touch with people, although they aren’t the only methods of doing so. There are several programs one can use for chatting with people individually. Why then, should there be a need for adding people on a social network page? One possible reason is how the social network sites make it easier to share information with several people at the same time, instead of contacting them one by one.

Before Facebook and Twitter, a lot of my friends would use Livejournal – a page for writing journal-like entries and finding people with shared interests. While this page has not grown to the size of Facebook, it still has a pretty large community of users. It functioned as a diary of sorts, and you could choose who had access to the entries you posted. Soon everyone had Facebook and Twitter though, and if you didn’t have one you were missing out. And that’s how the situation has become nowadays. If you don’t use any of the social network sites, you’re not “following the times”. When did it become like this? I’ve experienced people around me who initially had no desire to get Facebook or similar pages end up getting it in the end anyway, because if one does not have at least one way of communicating through these social network sites nowadays, one is essentially left with the short end of the stick.

The social network sites seem to have become almost essential in a way to keep in touch and up to date with recent happenings. Whether this is a good or bad thing, however, remains to be seen.

by Sindre M. Berg


I often see the words now, was, will and done at the end of Japanese sentences on Twitter nowadays. I have never saw anything like this when Twitter first became popular, but in a past year or so, a lot of my friends started using these 4 English words (although written in Japanese) used grammatically incorrectly.Likewise, a lot of Japanese people use “Japanglish” in their daily lives, thinking that they are using English words or phrases. In fact, many of these words derive from English, but are transformed so that it is easier for the Japanese people to pronounce, or memorize. For example, the phrase “order made” or オーダーメイド is Japanglish. In English, we would say “made-to-order” or “custom-made.” Other examples include “skin-ship” (スキンシップ) or “Consento” (コンセント). In English, we would say “personal contact” and “outlet” consecutively.

If you think about it, there are a lot of words that sound English, but are actually used only in Japan, and it seems as if this trend of using English is spreading even more recently due to globalization. More and more of these Japanglish are becoming popular, and new ones are continuously formed. For instance, the word “glocalization.” This is a new Japanglish word, often used to describe globalization and the current world system. As can be seen from the word, it is a mixture of “globalization” and “localization,” used in many ways to describe the relationship between global and local issues.

Social networks such as Twitter and Facebook are “glocal” in the sense that it connects both globally and locally, and has a huge influence in our social behaviours. What the individuals “tweet” or “post” could have a major impact on our society, such as the demonstrations in Egypt, which the individuals posted on Facebook to gather supporters and to explain what is going on in Egypt.

And if you think about it further, the words now, was, will and done on Twitter by the Japanese people are also examples of glocalization. Young Japanese people take the English words (global) and use it in their Japanese sentences to “tweet” (local).

Works cited:

Unknown. “Wasei Eigo Towa.” Kimyouna Wasei Eigo no Sekaie Yousoko, n.d. Web.  23 Dec. 2011. <;

by Nami Tatewaki

I Hate Facebook

I must make a personal confession. I hate Facebook. I did not like it from the beginning and my mood for it did not get better until now. But still I am using it. Each day. Just like the 800 million people who are registered in this best working “social” network. But somehow I have the feeling that I am not the only one out of these more then 11 percent of the world population, who is living under these double standards.

Social network, what is the meaning of this? The probably best way to describe it, is that it is a network of relationships between people, including their interaction. If this “network” is meant in a virtual or real world remains to be seen. Focusing on the virtual social network there is a high danger of a degeneration of the old model of community.

Do we not abandon our more intense strong ties with childhood friends in favour of superficial weak ties with acquaintances? True is that our connections are more widespread and by this high quantitative and ideal for a aggregation of social capital.

Positive effects are the most visible in the sector of communication which is much more simplified with the help of digital social networks. Virtual social networks can sustain friendship or communication over distance, but it also can launch and support whole revolutions such as the “Arab-Spring”.

Nevertheless, if overused, it can support the before mentioned degeneration of true communication and viable face to face relationship, what will lead to isolation and then one day, we will find ourself lonely under billions of people. From this perspective, perhaps this fear from isolation and loneliness is the driving force of the worlds love-hate relationship with Facebook. For my part, I hope that a “chat” will never ever replace a good old chat in a café with a friend who I do not just now from a picture in the internet.

By Robert Hoegerle

Was Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia Caused by SNS?

In the late 2010, there was an intensive civil resistance against Tunisian President at that time.  In Tunisia, that president was running long time and people was dissatisfied with his government.  People started demonstrations complaining that lacking the freedom of speech and other political freedoms.  People finally had succeeded to exile the president.  It is said that many kinds of SNS played important role to spread this revolution. That is why this revolution had been called as “Twitter Revolution” or “Facebook Revolution”.

Was it really SNS that caused this revolution?  Jasmine Revolution could not happen without the power of SNS?

In Jasmine revolution, people shared useful information about demonstrations by SNS quicker than media.  When media does not broadcast what people want to know, now we have the Internet and SNS to broadcast by ourselves.  Not only twitter and facebook, they also used video sharing sites such as youtube, dailymotion and Ustream.  People could really watch what was actually happening without any regulations by government even though they could not attend the activities.  Also, those series of information did attract many other people in other countries.  Actually, after this Jasmine Revolution, similar revolutions happened in Egypt and other Arabic countries.

In Tunisia, 34% of people were the user of Internet, and 16% of Tunisian people were on Facebook.  It seems that there would be a gap between those who have access to the Internet and those who do not (Digital divide).    Actually, the government tried to block the access to the Internet to avoid letting information spread.  But it could not really stop the revolution.  People can also communicate without using Internet.  From here, we can see that SNS was not really a trigger of these series of revolutions.  It has been helping people sharing information but it could not be happening without strong desire of Tunisians.  SNS is just another way of communication.  We should consider it as another media and that means we also have to be careful any information on the SNS.  SNS is useful and it can be an accelerator of Jasmine Revolution and any other social activities happening in the world, but we should always think carefully before completely trusting it and not to spread wrong information.  From now on, the bond between people will be more important than ever.

by Naoko Matsumoto