The Internet and Identity
By: Aryan Bellani
How has social media and the internet changed the identities of people in Hong Kong?
Throughout time, the meaning of identity has changed through the constant use of technology in everyday life. However, one of the most important factors in this process happens to be something that is used by millions of people daily is social media. This leaflet outlines information regarding how the use of the internet and social media has affected the identities of people in Hong Kong as well as the pros and cons of using social media.
What is Social Media?
- 1.55 Billion Monthly Users
- 1.01 Billion Daily Logins
- 4.5 Billion Likes Per Day
- 83 Million Fake Profiles
- Over 270 Million Active Users (Monthly)
- 300 Billion Tweets Since the Start of Twitter
- Mobile Users Are Much More Active Than Desktop Users
What can identity be defined as?
Identity can be defined through a variety of different ways. However, when I think of identity the first definition that pops into my head is "Who Someone Is". Identity consists of a group of factors including where you are from, what religion you come from as well as the traditions you follow. However, through the use of the internet (especially social media), a new set of factors are slowly being introduced. Some of these factors include who your friends are, what you use social media services for as well as what sort of things you post online.
Pros and Cons of Social Media
Nevertheless, social media has some of its downsides too. Some of these include lack of privacy and bullying. Due to recent developments in social media, it has become a hub for cyberbullying. This is an issue that has been a problem throughout the years as it involves people making attempts to blackmail others as well as impersonate them.
Issues present within the internet
Some of the most prominent issues that people encounter on the internet often involve, Cyberbullying, Stalking, Plagiarism as well as Hacking. In my opinion, I feel that these issues usually relate to people of all ages. That is why I feel that they should be outlined to spread awareness to the public.
Cyberbullying has grown to become one of the most common forms of bullying. This is because people are more vulnerable to being attacked online rather than in real life. Some forms of cyberbullying include taunting, posting inappropriate images as well as impersonating another person and using their name to post things. However, this issue has no real way to be solved. This only leaves us with the option to try and spread awareness so people can prevent it happening to them.
Stalking has taken a superior role in the problems of internet usage as with the explosion of social media. Due to this, people are becoming more vulnerable to being stalked online. Some examples of this include people creating fake accounts to impersonate people and stalk their friends. However, in some of the more serious cases people have been able to find out personal information such as where they live, who their friends are as well as their daily schedule without anyone finding out. This problem can be solved by trying to spread awareness to people in an attempt to help them change their privacy settings. I also think that schools should start teaching their students about the dangers of the internet.
Plagiarism is probably one of the most common issues relating to the internet. However, this is not to say that it is a subject that should not be taken seriously. Some cases of plagiarism often relate to people copying information they have found online and not referencing it. Some of the consequences involving plagiarism include lawsuits and cases of copyright infringement. Plagiarism can be stopped by using sources such as TurnItIn. TurnItIn allows users to check their work against numerous website to make sure that their information is unique. This tool can also be very helpful when completing school assignments or even research documents.
In my opinion, hacking is one of the scariest things that can happen to you. However, most hackers prefer to attack people with a higher social status such as celebrities and government officials. Some cases of hacking include people hacking into government facilities such as the NSA or even the pentagon. Nevertheless, people are being hacked every day and stripped of their private information. This information commonly includes credit card numbers and bank account passwords. Hacking can be stopped by adding a firewall or an encryption to any information that is valuable.
Geological aspects on how social media and the internet can affect the identities of people in Hong Kong:
Geography is one of the key factors on how the idea of social media, the internet as well as identity is built upon. An example of this can be related to Hong Kong due to its multicultural properties. As Hong Kong is such a diverse place, some aspects of social media including culture and tradition can conflict with each other. This can be shown in Island School as it is an international school that prides itself on allowing students originating from numerous cultures, religions and traditions to connect with each other. Social media can also play a big part in achieving this as it allows students to communicate with each other and help them understand the beliefs/traditions of their peers.
Another example of social media being used in Hong Kong is on the streets. This can be shown by just taking a walk on the street for less 5 minutes. Due to Hong Kong being such a technologically advanced place, social media and the use of the internet play vital roles in everyday life by allowing users to communicate freely as well as use their devices to control the things around them.
Cultural aspects on how social media and the internet can affect the identities of people in Hong Kong:
Identity in Hong Kong:
In my opinion, Hong Kong can be described in a humungous variety of ways including diverse. I think that Hong Kong is one of the most diverse places on earth as it is home to an array of different people. This is due to its economy, social status and complex history. Due to this, Hong Kong is also considered to be a very dynamic place that has been made to fit the needs of anyone who chooses to live here by enabling them to easily adapt to the fast-paced lifestyle found in the city.
How social media affects the Identity of people in Hong Kong:
In my experience, I can confidently say that social media/the internet is more than just looking at a screen on one of by devices but has instead developed into becoming an aspect of daily life by providing me access to forms of entertainment, communication and collaboration. Social media and the internet have done this through the use of media (photos, music, videos etc.) to provide me with entertainment, ways of communication (Skype, Whatsapp, Snapchat etc.) and even ways of collaboration (Google Apps, Cloud based apps etc.) that were thought to never be possible. However, these things do not only apply to me but the rest of the world too. Examples of this can be seen just by looking at the people around you or even by simply looking at a mirror.
It is my belief that the way we understand identity has undergone intensive changes because of the implementation of social media. This is because of several unique reasons. However, one of the most distinctive reasons is how people present themselves online. I think this because it is believed by many that social media is our identity.
Over the course of only a few years, social media has managed to constantly expand the number of their unique monthly users drastically when compared to the initial amount of unique users. An example of this can be found in Facebook. This is because when Facebook was first released, it was only released to universities. However, as more and more people started using the platform they decided to release the site to the world. As you can probably tell just by looking at your phone, Facebook has grown from having just a few thousand unique visitors every month to currently having a massive 1.5-1.6 Billion users every month. Due to this, social media has managed to open up opportunities for people of every description. However, even though the use of social media has been very promising, there are some downsides to the service as it has become a war zone for people to abuse it through forms criticism as well as hatred.
In the end, I think that social media truly does affect identity as it plays a key part in it. I think this because it allows people to make a better impression of themselves online than they could have done in real life by highlighting all of their positive properties. Whether this is through allowing people to only see part of their true identities or by hiding themselves completely behind a new account, social media is slowly becoming our identity and will continue to do so.
With the sudden boom of the internet from just over 2 decades ago, it is hard to think of a world without it. However, this may be a little bit biased due to the fact that I was born in a generation in which the internet already existed. In my opinion, I think that the world without the internet would just not be the same. I think this because people have started to use the internet and the technology behind it to help them run their lives. This is because the internet has developed into something so large and so efficient that if something was to happen to it, the world would be full of sudden chaos. However, the main focus of this leaflet is not to try and sell the internet to you. It is to show how social media/the internet is affecting the identities of people in Hong Kong. All we have to do to show how the social media and the internet are affecting our identities is to take a moment and remember what your use these services for. Whether it be to communicate, to collaborate or even to do your job. The internet has been implemented into our daily lives without us even realizing it. It has become a place for us to control our identities online.
Hong Kong is a place where to the internet has grown so deeply into our lives that we would shut down without it. After all, we have become the pawn in the internets game of chess.