No Sense of Place: The Impact of Electronic Media on Social Behavior

No Sense of Place: The Impact of Electronic Media on Social Behavior by Joshua Meyrowitz

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Inspired by Goffman’s theory, Joshua Meyrowitz puts his focus on self-representation through media. There is no longer a need for a physical place in relation to social interaction. It has developed into a modern transcendence without physical restrictions. We can connect and interact with our friends or strangers online, and on social media. Modern interaction can be submitted through a phone call, a text, a selfie or a snapchat. Furthermore, Meyrowitz focuses on: ‘’being’ (group identity), roles of transitions or ‘becoming’ (socialization), and roles of authority (hierarchy)’ (Meyrowitz, 1985: 52). Besides, he defines the individual as functioning in all three categories:

‘identified with a number of groups, at various stages of socialization into new roles, and at some particular rank or ranks within one or more hierarchies […] Socialization is unique among the three categories in that it involves the process of ‘becoming’, that is, the transition from role to role’ (ibid: 52-53).

In this case, we can draw a parallel to the dynamic between the individual and social media’s different platforms, where the individual has a possibility to present itself. Nowadays, the user (= the individual) has the chance to create its own role and identity on social media because they allow the individual to develop its own individual character: what one wishes to show the world, instead of having to adapt to a social condition, where the individual feels uncertainty of truly belonging. It is possible to create your own world, reaching out to the people who would fit into your ideals, values or interests, and therefore you are able to show your strengths instead of weaknesses.

This is of course as staged as how celebrities often spin their public life in order to attract attention to a product or a brand, but for the individual it is a way of developing a unique character and determine who you are on your own premises. In 2016 it is a fact that life is often lived through a lens or a filter. Selfies or photos posted on social media work as intermediates for contact and interaction with other people. But does the selfie trend destroy the true search for identity? Or does it simply allow the individual to truly find its strengths, interests and social matches?

One could fear that the increasing use of social media has led to identity crisis, and that it is more difficult to find the core of what identity truly represents. The tendency now is that the individual is driven by attention from online followers and social media; as if the validation of the self comes from likes, shares or re-tweets. This has created loneliness and isolation, especially for the younger audience. Due to the fact that most social interaction between people these days is online and through social media, superficial things like losing a follower can be a disappointment and create insecurity in the modern individual.

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