Saturday, 24 March 2012

Digital Identites in America

America’s association with the digital age has undoubtedly been paramount to not only the development of technology, but also its enhancement. With the introduction of Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, YouTube and various other popular websites, there has been a growing concern over the meaning of identity, and its place within the future of America. One of the main issues that surround the digital age of today, is whether everybody is the same online.

The most popular social networking sites, such as Twitter and Facebook originated from the United States, which thus reinforces the idea that America is leading the way in digital identity. On the internet, and particularly with Facebook, people have complete control over what information they want others to view, including their profile pictures and the way in which they want others to perceive them in terms of appearance. However, it terms of authenticity, there has been a growing concern. Although in some cases their profile picture reflects their appearance, their personality may not reflect their true identity. In addition to this, there have also been cases where such social networking has been a frontier for false identity in general. In other words, people only see/know the things we want them to and, in some cases, our digital identity can be the total opposite of our true identity.

However, growing concerns over identity are not just restricted to the vearious social network sites, for example with the development of the numerous RPG's (Role Play Games). Such examples can be seen in the popular game World of Warcraft (released in 2004, and since then it has 10.2million subscribers as of 2011), as well as the virtual world of Second Life - Both products of American culture. The 2008 BBC documentry Virtual Adultery and Cyberspace Love portrays the extent to which identity can be obscured, using the specific example of Second Life. This particular episode focuses on an American woman, Carolyn, and her obsession with
living in the virtual world. Her obsession became so extreme that Carolyn was willing to abandon her family to start a new life with the man who is her husband in the virtual world. The question is, therefore, what makes this website, which has three million members, so compelling enough that people are allowing themselves to become totally manipulated by the virtual world? The fact of the matter is that the idea of a digital identity is appealing because we have full control over it and it offers people a chance to escape their daily lives.

In general, social network sites and role play games enable people to escape from their daily lives and be the people that they want to be. Not only this, but the fact that people are literally living their lives online only further reinforces the idea that digital identities are becoming more and more prominent. To some extent it could be argued that everyone is the same online, particularly through the popularity of Facebook and Twitter, however, through the example of the BBC documentary ‘Virtual Adultery and Cyberspace Love', digital identity can affect some individuals more than others. In general I believe that the digital identity of America will continue to exist and further enhance this digital age. America’s dominance is not only affecting its own identity, but the identities of the whole world.

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