In today’s age, the internet is looked upon as a big advantage, a powerful thing that is used for good to better our knowledge. Also to have fun and communicate with people around the world. But the internet can also be used negatively. I believe that we as individuals should be aware of how we portray ourselves online because it can affect anyone in the real world. Also, everyone should be aware of virtual personalities because it can create mental illness. Since the internet also affects one’s identity in real-life. Virtual interaction can leave a stigma, and ruin reputations. A lack of awareness influences physical reality, by increasing awareness individuals prevent the downfall in their everyday social, personal, and business life.
Creating an identity in a virtual world should be fun. Yes, sure go for it. It’s sometimes can be fun to be able to communicate with people all over the world, explore one’s personality and be a person they wouldn’t be in the real world for fun. But many people go too far and basically live inside the internet, constantly live in that bubble and never come out. When they reached that extent that the virtual world is everything to them, they breathe, eat and, sleep with it. It affects anyone physiologically, it creates mental illnesses where if they can’t be on the internet they become depressed. We see today many people are on their phones for an hour or more, and they don’t even notice. Those hours being on the phone texting or on social media gradually increase. Eventually comes a time where many cannot be calm if they can’t be on their phones for 20 minutes. Many children that we see nowadays can’t stay still if they don’t have a phone in their hands. What will happen when they start getting older? Not only in the children, but we see it in the adults also. It’s a process where the addiction gradually increases, and it becomes a big problem if we don’t stop it. Such a big problem where many find their lives in the real world boring, and they’re only happy in the virtual world, then the internet is a problem.
Virtual existence also creates narcissistic tendencies where many “models/influencers” on Instagram, youtube, and many other social platforms, only care for themselves and don’t care for others, wanting to be the center of everything. “Studies indicate that narcissism is a constantly increasing tendency; more and more people are feeling self-important with increasingly disproportionate egos” ( Amichai-Hamburger). As shown, narcissism is something that can be developed and/or increased in anyone. The internet is a place where many people develop narcissistic tendencies. Where many people become obsessed with the number of followers/friends, the compliments they get online. They love attention and then it becomes an obsessive thing where they need it at all times. And we can see this in many influencers online, ones who have no empathy for other influencers, and use them to get more followers, likes, etc. They believe to a point that the world revolves around them. They get so caught up in their world that eventually they end up ruining their careers, and give themselves a bad reputation.
In addition, many people need to be aware by how they represent themselves on social media through pictures, comments, and posts that they upload into the virtual world. A post can greatly affect anybody’s life. If it is something negative, or very scandalous. It can impede them from receiving a job. Many times it has been all over social media where a student posts something they shouldn’t be posting and they lose a scholarship to schools or, they can’t play on a sports team in college due to something they uploaded. A male named Brandon Chambers, an assistant of a men’s basketball coach at a University tweeted. ” Never let a 140 character tweet cost you a $140,000 scholarship,”. Everybody needs to be aware of what he or she posted on the internet whether it be a video, a comment, or a picture. Something so small that you saw or did on the internet can greatly impact anybody’s life and/or yours. In many occasions, many influencers, professionals, or even just someone with a regular job have lost everything because of a post.
For instance, not long ago when I was in middle school a girl posted a video on Youtube. She was talking about her other classmates, and teachers. She talked negatively about them, eventually, the administrators in my school saw the video and suspended her for a week. This was a girl with excellent grades, one of the top students. And because of that video, she was never looked at the same. Many times the way we portray ourselves on Instagram may not be who we truly are, and when other people see us in the real world they already have that stigma. And at times it’s not a positive stigma that I am talking about. And then they don’t have the opportunity to show them who we really are.
Another issue with the internet here is trust. In this article written by Tina Indalecio “Exploring Identity in the Virtual World- Is that REALLY You?” The author begins to explain that we as people describe ourselves with certain adjectives for example ” I am pretty” or “I am Hispanic” to describe our identities. Also how we share beliefs and/ or goals to describe our identities in the real world. But when it comes to the virtual world, we have more of an outlet to describe ourselves a certain way we wouldn’t in real life. An outlet that forms our identities more, the virtual world lets us explore our beliefs and goals more. It lets us see who we really are. “The structure and design of virtual worlds allows its users to freely explore many facets of their personalities in ways that are not easily available to them in real life” (Cabiria, 2008, Exploring Identity in the Virtual World- Is that REALLY you?) Indalecio begins to explain a study done by Cabiria comparing a gay and a lesbians experience in the virtual world. And she begins to explain that it gives anyone the ability to be free from social norms or anything negative in the real world. But then when you create an anonymity in the virtual world and become a different person compared to your identity in the real world, can become a problem. Where many people have two identities they are one thing on the internet, but another in the real world. And we never really know who they truly are.
However, the virtual world gives anyone an advantage to explore themselves and to develop their identities, personalities, and beliefs. It gives many people to have a voice to talk about a topic that might be taboo or, not talked about enough in the real world. And they have the ability to be anonymous or portray themselves as a different person, create a new identity. To finally have a voice in this world. And live through that identity, that’s great but there is an extent to all of that. I agree with Indalecio when she says that it creates a lack of trust with that person that juggle with two identities. I believe to an extent it creates a conflict versus the person and virtual and real world. That many people will use that for their advantage, but it becomes a disadvantage to others, sometimes even a danger. Many people posts video or their opinions online and they aren’t positive videos nor positive comment. But obscene posts that nobody should see, or be able to put up. There are many different types of people that use the internet and can become traumatized by what they see on that screen. We wouldn’t want a child just playing around on google, and finds himself/herself on a website they shouldn’t be on.
The virtual world can be a fun place, but also a dark place and create horrible people. Also be an outlet for good and dangerous people. We need to protect ourselves from the dark side of the virtual world.
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