Hello, first time posting here!
I'm a student from Sweden studying in Cumbria, and now I'm supposed to write an essay for our New Media History Class. It's going to be hand in on Wednesday, and I'm a bit unsure how well the essay has turned out. My topic title is "Socialising on the Internet and its' effect on our Identities", and I need help with grammar, spelling, and just tips and feedback. Would love any kind of help.
Everyone knows how it feels to start a new school and meet new people; it can be exciting, it can be terrifying but it is always something we have to deal with. When you meet new people there seems to be some invisible rules that always apply when you want to make a good first impression. First, you always try to seem to be in a good mood. Because, who would want to talk to someone looking sour? Second, you make your best effort in trying to look physically good. Maybe you buy new clothes or put on makeup. Whatever it is you do, it is a ritual we all do. Why? We want people to like us. This also applies when we are active on the Internet. In this essay I will be discussing and analyzing the fact that we modern people seem to be reaching out for contacts not only in school or in our near surroundings, but also over the never ending scope of the internet. I will be looking into how chat rooms, communities and e-mail can influence our identities as people, and if we act differently over the Internet than in real life. I think this topic is important to bring under a microscope because it is a topic that is so new and that almost everyone in the world has a part in. Anyone in possession of a computer can contact someone else with a computer, and anyone can be influenced to act differently in their personality because of the safety-net the screen gives you, it makes you more daring and can give you the courage to do things you would normally not do. The positive and negative parts of socializing in the Internet world will come to light in this essay.
SOCIALIZING ON THE INTERNET AND ITS' EFFECT ON OUR IDENTITIES
There are so many ways to contact people on the Internet and we all do them. Even if it is unconscious or deliberate that we come in contact, doesn't really matter. We all get touched by being seen by another person and we will try to keep that friendship alive as hard as we can, if we really like that person that is. In real life we seek out people with the same interests and values and this also is the case with online friends. If you do not have anything in common, and have nothing to talk about, you can soon be expected to be deleted or blocked. This is a great example of a difference from being friends in real life and on the computer. You can't just stop talking to a friend, because you probably have to see or talk to this person because this person may be in your daily life surroundings. On the Internet when you fall out with someone, two scenarios can be put into effect. You delete a person or block them, and nothing more happens, you just keep on talking to the people you like. But, if you're the person being deleted, imagine how hurt you must be. You can't even go around this persons place or call them and ask why he deleted you, because with online friends that does not apply. In an interview with Nathan Gaunt (2008) who's doing his doctorate at the University of Auckland about 'Internet Friendship', says that being ostracized from an Internet group can be even worse than being so in real life. It can hurt anyone's self-esteem to be excluded from something they really care about, but when it comes to something indirect as a group on the Internet, a person can feel an anger that is called 'virtual bravado'. This anger makes a person stronger, and so you get daring and go off and do things you wouldn't normally do.
This new form of socializing has stirred up some new forms of grouping and spreading information. In my own opinion, I love the idea of talking to people through this medium; it's simple, it's not time consuming and you can talk to people you wouldn't normally talk to. And when someone adds you to his or her list of friends on msn (or similar) you get a tingle in your stomach that you're liked. As mentioned in an article by Magnus Sundholm (2007) Internet socializing can have such a positive effect on a person that his self-esteem gets better and their life gets a better quality. In his article the 51 year-old Nancy Makin tells the story of her Internet friends who actually saved her life. She weighed 317 kg when she got a computer and started talking to people for the first time in a great while and with the support of her new found friends she had the strength to turn her life around and does now weigh 77kg. Something else that is positive is that Internet gives a safe zone for people who may be too shy to make contact and cannot meet people as easily in the real world. The Internet makes it easier for these people to reach out and get to know each other. The same goes for people looking for partners, meeting someone in real life may be tough and time consuming. On the Internet there are thousands of services directing themselves to finding partners and 'love' for people. Dating over the Internet has become more and more popular these days, but it's got mixed opinion from people. But, what you don't realize is that many people actually meet the right people over the Internet. I, in personal experience have several friends that have met their partners over the Internet. I have several friends that I first met over the Internet and then became friends with in real life. I see a lot of negative sides of the Internet, like pedophilia and harassment. But I can't deny that most of the time my experience with the Internet has been good. I read in an article by Emmy Sundqvist (2003) that really unnerved me. Jenny, 13 years of age, was the victim of severe online harassment. A few years ago the Internet harassment was fairly anonymous but now it has started to get more personal. It can be direct bullying of one person via e-mail or sms but people often now harass people through their online diaries and guest books, so the harassment is public for everyone's viewing. This is a big breach of the law and you can get sentenced to prison for this, but this offence gets more usual by the day. I did a personal research, I went to a Swedish community called "Lunarstorm" and searched the topics of the diaries listed there. In at least ten of the twenty I read there were references to other people the person who wrote the diary didn't like. There were swearing and bullying in these texts. I cannot believe that the Internet has gone so downhill. Though, the people writing these texts are more responsible. The Internet only gives us opportunity. Have we really gone to that place that there are no standards on how to treat each other? It seems that the Internet changes our personalities that much it makes us go out of control. There are Internet harassment, people stalking people, there are even sites dedicated to hate people. I searched Google with the phrase "I hate" and got 3340000 hits, and a lot of these sites were directed to people. There is an actual "I hate Britney Spears" site, which I think is very tacky. But still, these are examples of people doing these things to other people. On the upside, the Internet brings possibilities for people to get together and make bonds that will last for a lifetime. I just think people should explore with caution, so things won't get out of control.
My conclusion of said subject is that Internet is almost too big for the minds of man. It has become as big and un-explored as the universe. We don't know what's out there. The Internet brings us so many great things and it seems as we are spoiling the fun. We are not supposed to change our personalities because we can get influenced by a medium, but of course we should be upset if we get cut out of a group on the internet, but it shouldn't change the way on how we would normally react. We should respect each other maybe even more on the Internet because everything that's being said is stored and will never be erased, and in real life things can be forgotten and forgiven. It's easier to forgive one person than hundreds who has engaged in harassment over the Internet. Because everyone who has read something negative about a person is equally a part in what has been said. I will keep on talking with my friends on the Internet and so should you, but just remember to be polite and don't break the law of being a human. Behave in an appropriate manner and so will people behave to you.
Sundqvist, E (2003), Jenny Mobbades - genom datorn, (online) Sweden, Aftonbladet.
Sundholm, M (2007), Nancy gick ner 240kg - tack vare internet, (online) Sweden, Aftonbladet.
Fowlie, F (2008), Nathan Gaunt - Young Adults on the Net, (online), Internet safety Group.
Gloppestad, A., and Abrahamsson, V (2006) Bidrar Internetanvändandet till att forma ungdomars identitet och sociala relationer?, (online) Sweden, Malmö University Electronic Publishing.