Tag Archives: virtual identity

Why are students choosing to air their most private ‘stuff’ on social media????

Why the heightened anxiety about young people using social media to air their sexual activity?
Is this just deviant and unworthy behaviour, and should students be banned for abusing their access to new media? Access is great but what about responsible and constructive use of social media? Who are the arbiters of responsible use?

After reading and hearing about this story in the media, I went online and examined only one site and its content. I admit there was indeed a load of absolute and utter you-know-what. However, there were also a few entries I did find that, if critically analysed, could raise some interesting issues. Take, for instance, the number of comments referring to rape on campus – could this indicate perhaps that this is a real and general social problem rather than just a campus issue?

As I discussed this news story with others, I sensed two major issues emerging: the information that flowed out of it could indeed be a symptom of a social malaise and it could be a significant indicator of social media’s powerful role in the identity development of young users?

Computer-mediated communication (CMC) is human communication and information sharing via new media technology and has been shown to facilitate the formation of ‘virtual’ or online identities behind which many users hide in order to raise questions, put out information, test opinions etc. Hence, because of the anonymity allowed by social media, people are more ready to disclose personal information and to experiment with different personas, role-playing, and even creating an idealised version of one’s self.

As a communicator and media analyst, I decided to explore this phenomenon of students’ off-loading online. I wanted to understand whether these private, individualistic ramblings-as-entries could, in any way, be seen as representations of what some academics may refer to as ‘the suffering subject’ trying to negotiate a sense of being and belonging. Is this sensationalist media content a call for help?

What are your thoughts on this matter?
Before you rush into it, let me offer some current thoughts for you to consider before you send your comments:
1. Issues of policy, legality, privacy, confidentiality – As with all new media content, these prevail and need consideration and debate
2. Use of institutional networks: Risk management is a major issue for universities etc where students are using internet and intranet for their own purposes. The universities have the right to set the rules for use within that context.
3. Democracy offers freedom but responsibility: media and individual freedom: who determines the extent of the freedoms; who are the role models of responsibility?
4. Media and Society: Media representations reflect the state of their society. Is this a global or local issue?
5. New media offers access and interactive engagement: Social media forums are sites of change and action. Throughout history alternative media have emerged where the mainstream media exclude certain groups who challenge and confront the dominant groups.
6. Expression of individuality; development of a sense of identity and community, but are these virtual or real or both?

Please Comment! Join the conversation on this current topic …….