It’s 3:02 AM. Most people are fast asleep but my insomnia kicks in and I am wide-awake. Immediately I grab my phone, check for text messages, and check Snapchat and Instagram. Although I checked these social media apps before bedtime around 12 AM, I always feel the need to check again at 3 AM.
Identity construction today is shaped through social media and what a person posts on the Internet. Having access to the Internet is essential for success in a progressive society. Internet access has always been available to me since I was a little girl. My elementary school taught us how to type through the Typewriter programs and my parents always allowed me to play computer games on their computer such as the Barbie hair-styling game. Today, I am constantly on my laptop checking social media sites, my e-mail, ESPN, food blogs, and online shopping websites. Accordingly, I use my laptop to stay connected to my college friends, my family, and my home friends. Being friends on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and FaceTime allows me to be in contact with so many of my friends and family even when we are far away geographically. Staying connected with my social network is simple with the help of technology, but I understand that this is not the case for everyone.
In a stratified society, there will always be people who have less access to the Internet than others. The people with lesser or no access are impaired, as they do not have access to the unlimited opportunities that are on the Internet. Families with a lower income are typically at a disadvantage since they cannot afford their own personal computers or devices. Even if a public library has computers, these people need help accessing the information that is available for them. If nobody is there to assist these people, then the devices are useless. Recently, I have been searching for a summer internship, and every advisor with whom I’ve spoken to has directed me to search engines on the Internet. I receive daily e-mails from the Communications School Career Services Office informing me of new internships that come up. Without this, I would never be able to find a summer internship, and I cannot imagine this disadvantage.
I live on the Internet. So much information that I want to know and do not want to know is just a click away. Once,
I was at home with the flu when my aunt called the house panicking. She told us to check Facebook and we saw the news. Our cousin, a famous TV writer in Hollywood passed away. To me, it was shocking that we were checking Facebook for this information, not hearing it from our family. Trying to believe what I was reading was impossible without knowing it firsthand. I did not want to trust the “Trending” section on Facebook like I had done so many other times for information about Bruce Jenner’s sex change, political information, and worldly news. This time I wanted to hear the news in person to believe that it was real and not trust the Internet.
I believe that the Internet knows me better than I know myself. I am profiled as a white advantaged college girl just by the websites that I visit on a daily basis. The Internet knows my shopping preferences, my interests, and can even probably figure out my beliefs. I believe that the Internet has enabled me to separate myself from others in many ways. The Internet has shaped my socialization, my creativity, and even my work ethics. Although the Internet is open and I am able to post about whatever I want, I still know that I need to be guarded. Once information is published on the Internet, I have no control over it. Future employers can read this information and judge me based on it. With all of the access I am fortunate enough to have, I always need to be mindful of what I want to share with the world.