Identity and the Internet Essay

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Identity and the Internet In a day and age of increasing reliance on technology and the internet we find an increasing use and reliance on social networking and other types of online communities. Many of these communities allow people to provide feedback and comments and contribute to all the various social microcosms around the Internet - a phenomenon that has certainly accelerated with the rapid growth of websites like MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. The growing virtual community, MySpace currently has over 230 million members, raises a number of intriguing issues concerning individual identity. Of these issues possibly the most unique is the level of anonymity those who use these forums find themselves dealing with. Because there is frequently no face to face interaction, it is easy to say or be anyone they want: wealthy, attractive, intelligent, the options are virtually limitless. But why is there this need for deceit? Is it the user trying to deceive him- or herself, or is there or more malevolent purpose behind it? Is it possible for an individual to lose their true identity in the virtual community? These are all questions to be considered when discussing the virtual community and its effects on individual identity. Before determining why and how significantly individuals choose to mislead their virtual community, it is important to understand how identity plays into a social group. According to Henri Tajifel and John Turner’s social identity theory, an individual’s identity is intertwined with the social group or community to which he or she belongs. The individual then gains or loses a sense of esteem based on the actions or emotions of the group as a whole. According to Amaral and Monteiro (2002), “one of the first consequences of becoming aware of being a member of a social group is a change in the way we perceive ourselves and the

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