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Do Young People Change Their Identity Because They Want to Fit in the Social Norm According to Social Media?

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There is no secret that a modern day teenager’s life is built around the usage of technology

As a result of society’s heavy reliance on technology, social media has become popular amongst people who are “technologically advanced.” Though there is a wide variety of social sites that can be accessed through modern day technology, a few have become very popular. Social sites which have become widely popular among teens include Instagram, Tumblr, and Snapchat. These social networking sites provide instant social connection and emotional support while letting teens post and send pictures of their everyday life. Many teens look towards social media for emotional support and social acceptance.

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In the era of everything instant, the perception of living life has dramatically changed. From the perspective that life is to too hard to live, it has now become an adage that life is easy and living it is should be much easier. Thanks to the comfort of modern technology and globalization, people are becoming more interconnected and interdependent. One of the great features of the unprecedented rise of the global cultures is attributed to the revolution of the Internet and social media. Almost everything has become so easy and so instant. Currently, the worlds by which define our reality have been changed by social media. We can do anything and everything through a globally wired network that enables instant communication. Socialnomics is “the value created and shared via social media and its efficient influence on outcomes”. Moreover, socialnomics is a revolution driven by people and enabled by the social media. A case in point is the most popular social networking site called Facebook. According to a blog in Birds Eye Media (2010), Facebook recently celebrated its six-year online presence. Its growing presence has enabled people to communicate more freely and have access to news and important updates. Information exchange occurs within and among the people we interact with in this new media platform. It provides the opportunity to reconnect with friends and loved ones. Social media works like a digital word-of-mouth where information dissemination is just a click away. In this age of globalization, social media networking has significantly altered the way we view realities and handle our relationships with other people. The first aspect is child literacy. Children of today are more literate than in previous years, according to a survey made by The National Literacy Trust where over 3000 children were included. It was observed that a correlation existed between children’s engagement in social media and literacy. Today, even school-age children have active Facebook profiles

This has become a major turning point as users of social networking media vary from the very old to the very young. Social networking has enabled easy access for children in searching for answers on educational or social questions and in sharing what they know by posting links and videos gathered from the Web. Secondly, social networking has led to ambient intimacy since it allows people to be in touch with loved ones with a different level of regularity which people would not normally have access to. Communication has become so ambient that we can use it wherever we want it. Facebook culture paved the way for the development of new levels of behaviors in relationship in general. Moreover, relationship statuses can be instantly changed and somehow be regarded that relationships can be had easily. It also becomes a venue for groups and various advocacies to form a niche and have their own chatroom and discussion board. In this manner, information is spread like a viral infection.

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Despite these negative effects of upward comparisons, they can sometimes be useful because they provide information that can help us do better, help us imagine ourselves as part of the group of successful people that we want to be like (Collins, 2000), and give us hope (Cheng, C., & Chartrand, 2003). The power of upward social comparison can also be harnessed for social good. When people are made aware that others are already engaging in particular prosocial behaviors, they often follow suit, partly because an upward social comparison is triggered. This has been shown in relation to sustainable environmental practices, for example, with upward social comparisons helping to facilitate energy-saving behaviors in factory workers and hotel guests

As with downward comparisons, the effects of looking upward on our self-esteem tend to be more pronounced when we are comparing ourselves to similar others. If, for example, you have ever performed badly at a sport, the chances are that your esteem was more threatened when you compared yourselves to your teammates as opposed to the top professional athletes in that sport. Social comparison occurs primarily on dimensions on which there are no correct answers or objective benchmarks and thus on which we can rely only on the beliefs of others for information. Answers to questions such as “What should I wear to the interview?” or “What kind of music should I have at my wedding?” are frequently determined at least in part by using the behavior of others as a basis of comparison. We also use social comparison to help us determine our skills or abilities—how good we are at performing a task or doing a job, for example. When students ask their teacher for the class average on an exam, they are also seeking to use social comparison to evaluate their performance (Bye, H., Sandal, G., 2011).

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As shown above, this definition acknowledges the cognitive nature of norms as beliefs, while, at the same time, suggesting that those beliefs are the result of (and shape) very concrete and material realities in which people live and learn. Adopting such a definition also requires accepting that quantitative measures might only partially grasp changes in gender norms. Sometimes measurement is essential and important, researchers should be aware that aspects of gender norms likely remain beyond their reach. For instance, while a part of gender norms might be uncovered by measuring people's expectations of appropriate behaviour for men and women, the institutional aspects or the related power relations might not be captured by these same measures. A multiplicity of methods that include qualitative strategies would thus be better suited to capture how gender norms affect people's lives, and how they shift over time.

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Bye, H., Sandal, G., van de Vijver, F. R., Sam, D., Çakar, N., & Franke, G. (2011). Personal values and intended self‐presentation during job interviews: A cross‐cultural comparison. Applied Psychology: An International Review, 60(1), 160-182. doi:10.1111/j.1464-0597.2010.00432.x

Carter, L. (2012). Locus of control, internalized heterosexism, experiences of prejudice, and the psychological adjustment of lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals. Dissertation Abstracts International, 73.

Cheng, C., & Chartrand, T. L. (2003). Self-Monitoring Without Awareness: Using Mimicry as a Nonconscious Affiliation Strategy.Journal Of Personality And Social Psychology, 85(6), 1170-1179. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.85.6.1170

Cialdini, R. B., Borden, R. J., Thorne, A., Walker, M. R., Freeman, S., & Sloan, L. R. (1976). Basking in reflected glory: Three (football) field studies. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 34, 366–374.

Collins, R. L. (2000). Among the better ones: Upward assimilation in social comparison. In J. Suls & L. Wheeler (Eds.), Handbook of social comparison (pp. 159–172). New York, NY: Kulwer Academic/Plenum.

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