This is a feature article I have written for our wonderful group’s sociology magazine we christened The Apolonian. It took two long nights to write my article and to fully layout the magazine, but I did it, just in the nick of time. I am quite thankful I had superb groupmates. My blockmate Michiko wrote a nice editorial column, while Leslie has drawn a impressive editorial cartoon and a really thought-provoking article about how people grieve over their loved ones’ deaths. I didn’t expect her to be able to write an article that deep and profound–she has truly exceeded expectations. The others were great too, very early submitters. I hope I can post our other works soon.
Sociology is one of my favorite classes now, while Accounting is the most frustrating one.
*back to studying*
Say it with a Tweet
by Desiree Grace Tan
With the whole world as their audience, people make use of social media to interact, to impress, to express.
Through social media, can self-expression also become self-mutilation?
Glancing at my Twitter home page on my laptop’s illuminated screen, I see a Tweet addressed to me, by a girl named Natasha.
@mylittlenotes: @desireegrace Wow, I truly enjoy your WordPress. I’m a passionate writer as well. My link is louisdiamondshoes.blogspot.com! (:
A rush of excitement gushed over me as I quickly visit the link and browse her blog, discovering that she, like me, has a thirst for literature and philosophical quotes. Like me, writing is her passion. She is enthralled with photography, like me. Unlike me, she has a penchant for 18th century fashion. Unlike me, she is American, living on the other side of the planet.
I promptly send her a reply thanking her for taking the time to read my blog as well as complimenting her for her blog’s beautiful prose. I then clicked on the “Follow” button. Now I would be able to keep posted with Natasha’s Twitter Tweets. Twitter, the world’s most popular micro-blogging tool, has now more than 19.7 million unique visitors.
Being an avid user of different forms of social media, receiving replies and comments from people from many parts of the world has become a common occurence to me, perhaps to so many others as well, and interacting through blogs and social media sites gives me a sense of belonging to a bigger, more diverse part of society. According to Cynthia Gordon, vice president of new media marketing for Universal Orlando Resort, she says, “The Internet is the biggest psychological and social human experience. We make encouraging viral activity.”
There is so much interaction on the World Wide Web, there undoubtedly exists a completely different form of society manifested on colorful, pixelized screens. People now get to communicate intimately to anybody they wish to talk to. By responding to Tweets on Twitter, ordinary people may now get to interact on a more personal level with people with the likes of Oprah, Ashton Kutcher, and Ellen DeGeneres. Since these celebrities are now able to directly share their thoughts and to divulge (if they choose to) what they had for breakfast to everyone else, the barriers between social classes are significantly blurred.
I have received comments from friends and strangers on my photos on Flickr, on my posts on Tumblr, and on my blog entries on WordPress. I have also made comments on other blogs and online news articles myself. As common as it is now, I still am amazed that just by posting a few words on my blog, I have been able to unintentionally touch the life of someone I do not even have a connection with in the first place. I didn’t even need to know the name of those whom I have touched. The World Wide Web, satellites, and intricately-crafted interfaces worked its magic to send my message out to the world for me. All I needed to do is punch a few keys on my keyboard, and to have something worthwhile to say.
More often than not, people interacting and communicating through social media surpass barriers of race, gender, and class. Many of those with Internet connections join online conversations without having to face discrimination, since commenting on blogs do not require one to show their complete identities, but only vignettes of what they choose to reveal of themselves.
Then again, because of the process of selecting what one chooses to divulge, one’s identity on the internet could prove to become rather distorted. One person’s rich personality that shines on her Facebook’s profile page showing dozens of pictures and regularly updated status messages do not really reflect who a person is, and yet stereotypes among the online community emerge, inevitably jugding people by what they see on social networking profiles and their quiz results.
However, to some extent, I argue that facets of a person’s identity may truly be seen through what he or she posts online. Reading someone’s blog shows the writer’s deepest emotions, and private thoughts—intriguing aspects of a person that could not be easily noticed offline.
Social constructionism theory suggests “all knowledge, including the most basic, taken-for-granted common sense knowledge of everyday reality, is derived from and maintained by social interactions.” In the Internet, a separate reality is created, enabling a new form of society to emerge, merging people from all over the world, creating different cultures altogether.
Social media is now changing the way we interact with each other. When used well, amazing things happen, barriers are broken, cultures merge, and people from all over the world unite. The emergence of Youtube, Facebook, Plurk, texting, blogging and other forms of social media shows concrete evidence that the people are not divided by their differences, rather, diversity is celebrated.
Boyd, Danah. 2009. “Living and Learning with Social Media.” Penn State Symposium for Teaching and Learning with Technology. State College, PA: April 18.