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Posts Tagged ‘identity’

Impersonal The Person

March 24, 2014 Leave a comment

In her interview with Brian Lehrer, Danah Boyd discusses contemporary challenges in child maturation. Well-versed in technologies complicated relationship with parents and their children, her work bases its conclusions on anecdotal evidence with young people. Her arguments are cogent and well-researched, and present a slew of new ideas about technology. From Boyd it becomes clear that a new perspective about technology must be developed to educate both parents and children. How has the internet changed the way we mature? Clearly, the relationship between peers has been altered drastically by technology. In Boyd we hear the complicated levels of these changes: alterations both for peers in similar age groups and between peers of different groups.

Each generation relates to technology differently. The ways in which an older generation uses Facebook is drastically different from a younger generation. Despite a common platform the two groups both utilize and understand the technology differently. From this great void of understanding comes significant confusion. How do children relate to their parents posting on Facebook? What do children do when their parents refuse them Facebook access or insist they function as a gate-keeper?

As our relationship with technology develops so to will our relationship with those who use technology. Just as users of Facebook come to understand the platform, the means of understanding others who use the platform will develop. Will a sense of someone’s “Facebook-self” become more common? Are we capable of allowing someone to exist as someone else on the internet? The online world is rich with opportunities to be someone else. In these new identities an amazing wealth of power can be seized. Where confusion enters the picture is when these distinct personalities are blurred. With the use of alternative identities it becomes critical that distinctions remain intact. How do parents keep their children safe? Ultimately each family must reach their own conclusion; though, a recognition of the multiple identities of online life is essential. Disregarding this is to disregard the rules of the internet and the very reality in which we live.

 

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Raging On: Interests, Passions and Identity

December 28, 2010 Leave a comment

Among the many devices that humans use to identify themselves in relation to fellow human beings are “areas of interest.” These items, or sources of inspiration and passion, are the activities, items, or behaviors that excite the individual. We enjoy only a selective cluster of things and in considering this cluster better understand who we are as individuals. In a way, our interests function as a distinction from the rest of the population or, in some cases, assist in understanding which cluster of human beings we belong to. In short, our interests both define who we are and connect us to the rest of the population. Furthermore, this connection is two-fold: functioning both for the individual whose interests are under consideration and the population at large in which the individual is a member.

Due to this important factor, the communication of these interests is often the most powerful communication of any human being. An individual will express an interest in multiple formats and medium. Beyond dress and the image presented to the world, an individual will verbally express interests and act out these interests when possible. We seem desperate to tell as many people as often as possible what it is that makes us who we are. One wonders whether if in doing so we are merely engaging in our favorite behavior or functioning with ulterior motives, perhaps seeking out others who are like us or even trying to convince ourselves that this so-called interest is in fact as interesting and engaging as we believe. Does our behavior secretly state, “See me doing this and having fun? Do you like this and if so do you want to do this with me?” or “I’m doing this and I think I’m having fun. Am I really having fun?”

Sometimes we never know.

For some the communication of interests comes not in frequency of demonstration but in power. The consumption of food and beverage are interests best suited to this technique, but any activity that involves extensive physical action can utilize this format- specifically the jogger who runs further, longer or later than another. “How extreme are you? This is how extreme I am” seems to be the silent communication at play here. The drinker will consume until beyond appreciation of the item or the eater will consume so much to render his or her physical state beyond stasis. In a way we’re expressing the idea that we love our interest so much that we’re drowning in the passion.

The need to express an interest is understandable. Often we utilize varied formats to express our interests, most often via frequency and power. For some these expressions serve to communicate the level of interest and establish legitimacy. We all fear the status of amateur and see it as an insult to our personal value. One of the sourest human emotions is the sense of mediocrity. The sting of being half-interested or partially-skilled leaves us all desperate to express the things we love and drive home our point as clearly as possible. After all, if we can’t even express our interest in the things we love how great can we be at actually engaging in the behavior?

Unwrapped: Gift Giving and Influence

December 22, 2010 Leave a comment

The process of purchasing a gift is a complicated process. When we finally reach the check-out and exchange our money for an item we reach the culmination of a series of complicated maneuverings used to inform our selection. What begins as a simple question, “What should I buy him?” becomes a slippery slope of musings that reveal much about who we are, who we perceive our friends to be and the person we hope to present. A thoughtful gift is far more than just an item to make life easier: a shopper who sincerely seeks out the “perfect” gift ventures into a complicated maze of assumptions and compromises.

Our initial thoughts will focus solely on the receiver of our gift. We begin by wondering what the person needs, seeking out an item that can make their life easier. We have the best of intentions at this stage and see the list of potential gifts as endless. It is only in the marketplace that we begin to compromise and narrow down the list based on item availability, cost or the factors of our own life that affect our venture for the perfect gift. Even in situations where a perfect gift is found we begin to tweak our perspectives to the issue of what the gift communicates about us and develop ideas on the reaction of the receiver when this potential gift is received. Suddenly a simple process becomes an act of physical communication which extends far beyond the simplicity of the initial notion.

Gradually the receiver’s needs and wants becomes a secondary factor, replaced at this stage with our personal concepts of who we are and how we want the receiver to perceive us. We begin to look for an item that communicates the identity we project to the receiver of the gift. We see a similar behavior when we buy gifts for family, friends and colleagues. Each gift is closely tied to the person we aim to project. Our gifts become extensions of these identities and minor items loaded with important symbolic power.

Our gifts are projections of the identities we present to the world. Just like our gifts which are wrapped snug in paper disguises, we present a similar distorted perspective to the world. When our gifts are open we unveil both our selection and the perception we aim to transfer. Gifts are rich in symbolic power and function as a yearly reminder of who we are and who it is we want the world to perceive.

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