How does one define their identity? Is it by the way they choose to portray themselves, their cultural associations or their personality?
There are various definitions of the term identity. In the case of a popular Internet guide, The Free Online Dictionary (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/identity), there are six. They are:
“1. The collective aspect of the set of characteristics by which a thing is definitively recognizable or known
2. The set of behavioral or personal characteristics by which an individual is recognizable as a member of a group.
3. The quality or condition of being the same as something else.
4. The distinct personality of an individual regarded as a persisting entity; individuality.
5. Information, such as an identification number, used to establish or prove a person’s individuality, as in providing access to a credit account.
a. An equation that is satisfied by any number that replaces the letter for which the equation is defined.
b. Identity element.”
In our project we will be looking at the first four points and how they are depicted by users based on their use of the popular social networking website, STOMP.
Amongst its numerous other features, the Singapore Seen feature, STOMP’s citizen journalism portal is the key text that we will be looking at.
STOMP’s Singapore Seen allows users to post their views, new stories and comments with the safety of an online persona. The user can choose whoever they want to be. This theory of the online persona has been discussed numerous times as trend that allows youths to express themselves.
Their contributions are also always valued, regardless of its newsworthiness or relevance as long as the editors do not see it as offensive. This gives the users a heightened sense of importance and therefore raises the need to be responsible for their posts.
The availability of a citizen journalism portal adds on to this as users feel that their contributions matter to the general public and they are carrying out a form of public service by posting news on STOMP. By tracking the response or comments to their news articles, users can judge how well accepted they are by the public.
And the beauty of this is that anyone can do it. There are no barriers to entry or requirements. It’s like a club for anyone and everyone and you can do anything you want.
This role in society that STOMP takes on is that of a public sphere, where one can express him/herself and feel a sense of belonging to a community that is as vast as the entire country. This is the perfect ground for one to try and establish who they are and whether their views matter to anyone else; a necessity for most youths today.
Youths are constantly looking to blend in with the ‘cool’ crowd (whatever their definition of cool may be) and at the same time create a spot for themselves in the world as an individual. They are often hampered by the fear of rejection and/or embarrassment. One would only have to view the auditions for Singapore or American Idol to prove this theory right.
STOMP is perfect because it allows the user to accomplish so much with the safety net of an online persona. In the world today, the internet is ‘King’ and STOMP has successfully used it to provide locals with something more than just a social networking site.
The Free Online Dictionary, 2010. Identity. The Free Online Dictionary, accessed 25 November 2010, available at http://www.thefreedictionary.com/identity