Who R U?

Who are you? This is a simple question, and so one would think. As when it comes to The Media, Everyday Life and You, there is a deeper cultural understanding that situates identity within the fabric of society.  Age, gender, and ethnicity are just a few factors that are ‘culturally inflicted’ within (studies of identity in) everyday life. This argument is explored in During’s article on ‘Debating Identity’.

To place identity within the media landscape calls to examining media and discourse in the contemporary society. I utilize Face-Book, am on MSN, have Blog spaces, and Twitter. These are just a few of the Mediums we can use to analyze Discourses in the contemporary society. Furthermore, these media forms and their Discourse analysis in today’s world are examined in an article by Hearne. Hearne analyzes media use in the context of a Post-Fordist world, therefore looking at the interaction between production, and consumerism.

Within this discourse, Hearne argues that identity is more or less based on a ‘branded-self’, or ‘image-commodity’. “The branded-self (in a postmodern, capitalist society,) sits at the nexus of discourses of neoliberalism, flexible accumulation, radical individualism, and spectacular promotionalism (p.197).” This notion is exemplified using reality television programs, such as Survivor and The Apprentice. In accordance to this argument, Herring also uses the relationships between the producers, researchers and media users, to demonstrate how this power-play impacts the users. Herring demonstrates that consumers/media users are misrepresented when analyzing their media use in the contemporary society. The argument is based on moral discourses in the way we use media. “Young people use new technologies for social ends that are much the same as for earlier generations using old technologies. Young people instant message, text message or email their friends much as Baby Boomer generation talked on landline telephones. They abbreviate and use language creatively to signal their in group identity (2008 p.77).”  

Essentially, Identity according to During is ‘hybrid’, and thus ‘arbitrary’. What is most interesting is that through Discourses our notions of identity changes, and this is referring to identity as arbitrary, i.e “determined socially from the outside (p.145)”. During shows this through history (terming it ‘identity politics’), during the civil rights movements (he uses examples such as ‘nigger, and blacks,’) the Holocaust, Communism and Feminist movements. Hence, During is arguing that identity is a subjective notion, influenced by the social sphere. I cannot disagree with either of these arguments that place identity within context, plus also demonstrating that identity is a process that needs to have a comparison. For instance, if there were not Whites there wouldn’t be Blacks.

Having stated these notions, I must now look towards my identity in a postmodern world, a capitalist society. I use many networks that identify who I am. I am aware that these technologies have a target market for youths, and can thus be a mechanism for scam profit-making. However, as I use FaceBook I am simply using it for communication purposes, to keep in touch with people from abroad, and to also keep me updated with news-reports from friends and families. Being an active user, I do not feel that these media uses are ways of self-branding, as contradictory as it may seem; there is legitimacy in self-branding, depending on what forms used, who (bands, individuals, businesses, perhaps a subjective way of looking at FaceBook) uses these Mediums, and how you use these media-forms, in a Post-Fordist , postmodern, capitalist, neoliberal, Western society.

References

During, Simon “Debating Identity” Pgs 274-278.

Hearn, Allison “Variations on the Branded Self.” Pgs 279-287.

 Herring, Susan “Questioning the Generational Divide: Technological  Exoticism and Adult Constructions of Online Youth Identity.” Pgs 288-308.

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