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Flattery: Digitized personalities & social media

BY NEIL FLATTERY | JUNE 25, 2015 5:00 AM

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“They don’t make them like that anymore.” This statement has been used to describe my grandparents countless times. Over the years, I took it for granted and considered it solely as a cliché used to describe older people.  

However, there may be a hint of truth to it. The proliferation of social media in our culture has indeed made it so that we don’t actually “make them like that anymore.” Our lives and personalities are interconnected as never before with the Internet and social media.   

This intimacy has caused a strong push for popularity among younger people to “fit in,” whether in social media or beyond. We have developed personalities and interests that are much more homogenized in this way than the past, in which people were not in such proximity to prevailing social norms via social media, and not as fully immersed into the lives and opinions of their peers.   
Has social media created a more homogenous society of similar personalities?  

Sultan Alzahrani and Christian Bach from the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut contend in their article “Impact of Social Media on Personality Development” that it indeed does negatively affect the personality development of young people. 

The popularity-seeking mentality among younger people on social media, the unreal standards of appearance set by peers, and the notion that these factors can often lead to depression among younger people are all adverse effects of this phenomenon. 

Social media have also been observed to establish false standards of friendship among adolescents. These factors have a major effect on personality development because of the physical and psychological changes that people go through during adolescence. Educating parents on the risks their children can experience in regards to social media is crucial for the most effective personality development

Expanding upon this study, personality is not only being developed less effectively because of social media but also that our personalities are becoming more similar. Because we have vast access to each other’s lives, especially during our most crucial developmental life stage, adolescence, this access extends to whomever we wish to extend it to and not limited to our friends or close acquaintances.  

This expanse of community never existed before. Pre-digitalized generations were freer to develop their personalities independent of what peers thought and not as influenced by pop culture or trending topics at the time.

Peer pressure existed in the past, and pop culture has always been able to influence adolescents. However, the ability to know exactly what your peers and pop culture icons are doing at all times of the day is something that is unique to this day in age and is working to make our personalities more similar. 

Do they make us the same as they used to? Yes. However, we may not develop our personalities in the same way as people did in the past. It is important that we educate ourselves on the risks that may occur if we overexpose ourselves and our young people to social media, remembering to take some time to unplug ourselves from technology and its influences.


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