Community Groups on Facebook & Identity Formation (Castells’ Identity belief)

How media formed one’s identity?

Media is often said to have potentially profound effects in forming one’s social identity. However, to understand how it affect the identity by understanding what ‘identity’ really mean. Identity is not something that we’re born with. It’s socially constructed with the combination of self-awareness, knowledge of knowing oneself, how he presents himself and how he perceived by others (Aronson, Wilson & Akert, 2010) In today’s world, this concept is changing a bit where it can be defined by new media especially internet with the creation of fantasy or cyber identity and also functions as extension of our daily life and as a tool of cultural change. Internet users can own multiple identities for instance in chat rooms people tend to use nick names to stay anonymously that only disclose certain amount of personal details which may be true or fake. It can also be considered as an actively constructed presentation of oneself.

As users we often claimed that we belong to certain sites such as Instant Messaging, Online Dating, Academic forum sites, religious group online or certain political party’s page on social media such as Twitter and Facebook. Today, even younger generation is believed to have strong social identity when they spend almost a day with their mobile phone or computers; addicted to games or engaging themselves with social media up to 3 in the morning when they’re supposed to sleep. In addition, cyber identity is become common details for two people who just met. For example, before the emergence of Internet, people would ask for each others’ phone number or their place of living but now people tend to identify themselves as having Facebook, Skype or any other social sites so that they could connect via Internet in the future. The rising of online communities has developed the issue of how we present ourselves to others. We can also be marked differently by looking at how we present ourselves in an online environment because we’re much controlled by how people perceived us. We often identify ourselves through invention of nick names that may be has little relation to our real identity.

When we visit someone’s sites on the Net, it’s actually a presentation of them as they wanted to be seen in that situation. For example, in fitness page people tend to share their work-out videos in order to meet the members’ expectation whenever they visit that page which is to get updates on new kind of workouts based on their preferences. Another example is on Google Plus where people share their brief biography such as educational background, working experience and interests.

Example of Community Group on Facebook: Miri Cats Community

The creation of community group on Facebook for example is due to mutual interest; Miri Cats Community that specifically created for cats’ lovers in Miri and it’s a closed group which means the setting is controlled by the group admin. This inclusive of approving request to join in and filtering posts on that page. This is to restrict its members from posting disturbing videos such as violence against cats which might caused such as hatred and anger among cats’ lovers. It’s happened when a member of that group posting a disturbing video of  a woman trampled over a kitten body with her high heels and it caused chaos on that group in that day where the other members posting comments with curse words toward the woman in the video. This community group is aimed to promote cats with different breeds and advertising about the upcoming meetings and competitions.

Besides, its members are free to share their cats’ photos to seek for “adopted” owner especially when the real owner is away from home and he/she need somebody else to feed his/her cats. It also concern about those who lose their cats by helping them to spread the cat’s photo and to help stray cats to get a proper care by seeking for new owners. This site is primarily addressed to those cats lovers because normally there’d be people who don’t fond cats due to health problem that can be caused by its fur or maybe they just don’t like to keep pets due to lack of commitments and interest. The probability for them to engage in this kind of group is low and perhaps they don’t even visit such sites because it’s not their interest.  

Gay Community Group on Facebook & Castells’ Definition of Identity

Generally we all noticed that our nation and most religions are against homosexuality. Yet, it cannot stop them to establish their own community on virtual world. Basically this site is for people to connect each other based on their sexual roles. They profoundly mention their interest to get to know each other for example Jejaka Sarawak and Kuching PLU (People Like Us). It same goes to heterosexual partners who interested with the opposite sex who have other sexual roles. This sites is primarily created only for gays and of course it’s a closed group because they wanted to protect the privacy of its members who may not disclose about their sexual identity to any of their close family members due to fear of rejection especially from other homophobic people. It’s function more like an unofficial dating sites where people are free to post their pictures and mention about their status.

At the same time, there’s also sites who are against gay community who may be mentioned about these sites but they can’t enter it due to strict privacy setting that’s controlled by the admin.As according to (Castells,2004) there are two distinct identities: project and resistance identities.Project identities refers to those identities constructed in order to change the world and they are built around a certain ideology. For example, a gay who have to maintain his masculinity in front of homophobic people due to fear of rejection. Resistance identities are stigmatized identities that seek recognition and a kind of identity that do not enjoy a high symbolic and material status. For example, being a gay which is believed to be one of deviant act or deviate from norm. However, all identities tend to become resistance identities, they seek to defend and safeguard their own position.

How Online Interaction Affects Individual Role in A Group?

The ‘invisible’ nature of online interaction has other effects on our role as a member within a group. In a virtual community chat room there’s private setting that is less incentive to adhere to social rules and mores than in the outside, physical world. In other words, we’re simply less at risk for those who break the rules. Apart from that there’s a privacy setting in which they’d band that users if they talk about sex openly or showing sexual images that’s obviously inappropriate due to age restriction and it shouldn’t be publicize. But at the same time, this privacy setting is vulnerable in such a way when they’re being kicked out from the chat room, they can always return back with new different anonymous name, forging a new identities and they can continue chatting away in the group and receive updates for particular pages. But not all online sites have a hesitant nature. Social media enabled us to keep in touch with our friends and family, reunited those who have grown distant from for instance Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Despite showing personal information of the users, it is beneficial especially to stay connected with someone who is close to your heart even they’re far by visiting their profiles to keep abreast of their recent updates and photos. Not only that,Facebook reproduce pre-existing member-based groups such as your colleague or classmates in a community group that has its own purposes for instance group assignment or school clubs or related to work especially to connect workers from various branches. By making more points of contact between people, users are actually strengthening their real friendship and encouraging interactions between people who have never met for real and may only know each other online.

Other online communities such as paid dating sites around the idea that its members have to spend money in order to join and interact with one another in the hope that they will meet someday in the real world. In other words, virtual world has become a platform for people to falsify their experience, relations and friends that can develop into ‘real world’ relationships (Jones, 1997)Yet many people argued that connection and relationship online have negatively affected interpersonal communication and weakening social bonds between people due to dependency on virtual communication which is lack of emotional expression except for written words.

Reference

Aronson,E.,Wilson,T.D.,& Akert.R.M.(2010). Social Psychology.UK: Prentice Hall.

Jones,S.(1997).Virtual Culture:Identity and Communication in Cybersociety. NewCastle, UK:SAGE.

Castells.M. (2004).The Power of Identity: The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture.Volume 2. NJ,US: John Wiley & Sons.

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