Sunday, 25 March 2012

America Online.

As America is at the forefront of digital technology in the modern age, it is highly important to focus on what that means for the country itself. The birth of social networking, such as Twitter and Facebook, as well as Youtube (which allows its users to upload and broadcast themselves across the world), the issue of online identity becomes an extremely important part of an American's everyday life.

The internet is argued to be the place for one to express themselves freely, and thus it could be seen as a cause for concern in consideration to content and who has access to what. America can govern its own laws, but they cannot govern the internet as a whole. It is possible, therefore, for people to project whatever they like for as long as they are able to be one step ahead of the authorities. For example, in cases of illegal downloading and piracy, it is near impossible for the American government to monitor and control. This therefore suggests that the online world has a certain extent of elitism as to who can use it and for what.

Arguably, the increase of teen suicides in the country has been aided by the use of the internet to continue bullying that would have stopped after the school day was over. Now it is possible for someone to attack your online identity as well as what you project in real life. The increase of cyber-bullying, as well as fraud and other criminal offences, has therefore made Americans wary of what they publish online. It could be argued, then, that an online identity is only what someone chooses to present and not their full identity.

This becomes interesting in the case of online dating websites and how they boast about matches they can make to someone with similar interests to you. However, is this actually possible if the two people are only projecting what they think are their best qualities, likes and interests? For example, it's not possible to change how you look in life, but it is possible to use your best photo and photoshop in order to project an improved version of how you look online.

Most Americans see the internet as a way to get on in life, with entrepreneurs such as Mark Zuckerberg making their millions, but also as a way of progressing forward socially. For example, it is possible for someone to become "Youtube Famous" as well as "Twitter Famous" due to their number of followers or subscribers online. But if the person who has become "Internet Famous" is only a section of their full identity, then it could be argued that it is only their digital self that is famous.

This may seem false to people from other countries, but for Americans it appears that they are willing to accept this level of invasion into their personal lives. Much of a digital native's life in America revolves around social networks and having a constant news feed of the things they are interested in. This sense of adaptability, the way that the internet can be moulded around a person's needs and interests, suggests a positive way of looking at the internet, and therefore it is difficult to see Americans willingly removing themselves from the digital world.

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