Technology has infiltrated every aspect of our lives as people of the twenty first century. There is no day to day task that hasn’t become in some way aided by technology. The way in which we communicate as a society has changed substantially, and the rapid nature of this change, shows no sign of decelerating. We can communicate faster and more efficiently than ever before, however there’s many unforeseen consequences surrounding this new age way of communicating. Traditional elements of human communication and the core of human interaction are being lost in the online world. Interaction and how we present ourselves is not simply how we talk, it’s equally how our body talk. Focussing ‘especially on vocalizations other than words, on eye behaviour, facial expressions, hand gestures, and larger bodily movements, including posture’ (King). All of which have no part to play in the words written and read on a screen. Elements of natural communication including sub-elements like body language as well as the instant and organic conversation are being lost as we confine our being to the digital world.
As humans it’s in our nature to adapt to our environments, but what happens when that environment is an online environment? When we are simply a collection of data, a collection of binary information translating to the world who we are. This data is collected by the thing we say, the things we do, and the actions we take online. Everything from informal Tweets about how cute our pet is, to academic articles we publish on relevant platforms, it’s all an equal part of how you define yourself as an online persona. It’s incredibly important to acknowledge the idea that everything we say and do online is constantly defining our digital identity. It’s critical that we hold ourselves accountable for every formal and informal publication we put out onto the internet. The way we present ourselves online not only has effect on our personal lives but has an equal effect on our professional lives. It’s essential for us to take control of how we represent ourselves online.
In contrast to natural communication and organic interactions, we have a huge control over the edition of our self we portray to the online world. Understanding certain elements of your online publications is essential. The purpose of your publication, the platform in which you are publishing to, as well as the audience you intend to interact with, all play essential parts in how you manipulate content, presentation and the formality of your language. As you broadcast what you want to say, whether it’s a status on Facebook, telling your friends or family what you had for breakfast, or a carefully assembled essay or blog, it carries itself as an equal online publication. Following the process of forming an adapted, revised and edited version of digital selves and publishing it for the world to see.
Conforming to social normalities however, keeps us from publishing our professional or academic blogs to our Facebook pages. Similarly keeping our blogs free from information about how to make perfect breakfast soldiers and dippy eggs. Social media presented a platform for global communication and has created an online environment where you can effortlessly connect with anyone regardless of their location. Through the development of these sites there has been a huge change in social networking married with many unanticipated consequences. Social discourse is being brought to the forefront of a lot of questionable boundaries, which as a society, we seem to be testing to the absolute maximum.
Where previous distinctions lay, ‘mass media can be seen as instantiating the blurring of boundaries of various sorts: fact and fiction, news and entertainment, drama and documentary and so forth (McLuhan 1964, Silverstone 1999)’. We are now at a time where ideas that would’ve been completely absurd, are becoming societal norms. Imagine trying to explain to past generations the catastrophic social harm the current president elect of the United States has caused. Resulting from the senseless and irresponsible way which he publishes his reckless thoughts online. An example of absolute ignorance to the impact of your online publications and the consequences on online social dynamics. Anything you publish online, formal or informal, is permanently and enduringly digitally printed which constantly shapes how you, as a person is defined.
Regardless of the negative consequences associated with having such a major change in social discourse, there are positives to the untangling formal nature of political and civil communication. Our generations strength in support for new movements, political bodies and social injustices is second to none in the online world. However, it is becoming increasingly refined to exactly that, the online world. We are emerging as a generation of easily influenced minds with mediocre opinions. There is so much information available, in some ways it can be overwhelming, so naturally many people become complacent.
There is an extreme bravery people receive as they sit facing their computer screen about to Tweet @realDonaldTrump and tell him their strongly worded opinions on why they think he’s unsuitable for the job. This bravery however doesn’t manifest into any positive action, those words simply sit and linger on the internet, perhaps interacted with briefly with someone who shares your opinion but that’s about it. Rarely is there any positive, influential or measurable outcomes which derive from situations like this. There is a broader connection to society through social platforms, however this connection, is far weaker than ever before.
The core of our society is changing rapidly, the structure and natural dynamic of human interaction is becoming unrecognisable. The digitalisation of communication is affecting every aspect of our lives, on a personal, societal and global level. We are becoming increasingly aware of how we create our digital identity and developing our understanding of monitored online publishing. The way we present ourselves as a person online, what we say, what we do and the actions we take define us. Projecting ourselves as the adapted, assembled, premium versions which we publish out into the online world.