The discourse about social networking in communications theories usually reflects two parts of the online communication equation. The first part represents the implementation and usage of new communication technologies (including both hardware and software solutions) and the second part of the equation includes the social construction of self-identity that may include the real identity of persons communicating, the online construction of an avatar or a combination of both. In a variety of available online communication options, the users are constructing their identity in accordance with the technology being used and in accordance with the social environment that surrounds the given communication tool. In this paper I explore the relationship between an online communicator and his/her perception of the online environment and his/her readiness to use their real identity. An initial analysis of this online ethnography study has been performed, asking users about the technologies they use and whether they use their real names or construct a different identity and the preliminary results indicate the following: 1. The usage of hardware (cellphone, personal computer) plays a crucial role in self-identity construction. 2. The usage of specific online service (Facebook, Twitter, Instant messengers) determines users' readiness and comfort level to use real identity, and 3. The reason for online communication (family conversations, online playing, forum discussions) establishes the social environment for the final social construction of self-identity.
|Keywords:||Real Identity, Avatar, Social Constuction, Identity, Self-identity|
Assistant Professor, College of Arts and Sciences, Communication Arts Department, New York Institute of Technology, New York City, NY, USA
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