Internalizing the Internet

Online social networks alter how users see themselves and their world.

By Beth Marie Mole | January 23, 2013

FLICKR, JACOBMETCALFOver the next 10 years, people will increasingly shape their view of themselves and their position in the world using their interactions on Facebook, online games, and other social media, rather than traditional identity-shaping features, such as religion, job, ethnicity, and age, according to a report released by the Government Office for Science's Foresight program of the United Kingdom. While the study acknowledges that the trend can have both positive and negative effects on individuals, it predicts that online identities will have an overall profound impact on society in the near future.

“This report shows that ‘identity’ is not a simple notion,” Sir John Beddington, head of the UK Government Office for Science, wrote in the foreword of the report. “People can have many different overlapping identities, which are fundamental to their individuality. Identities can exercise a powerful influence on the health and well being of communities, and the degree to which they can build up social capital.”

Among the positive implications, the report cited the potential for online media to help individuals connect with different communities and escape preconceptions. “The Internet can allow many people to realize their identities more fully,” the authors wrote. “Some people who have been shy or lonely or feel less attractive discover they can socialize more successfully and express themselves more freely online.”

But online connectivity can usher in new problems, including a blurring between private and professional identities, loss of cohesiveness within real-life communities, and a higher potential for identity theft and other online privacy breaches.

“The collection and use of data by government and the private sector, the balancing of individual rights and liberties against privacy and security, and the issue of how to tackle social exclusion will be affected by these trends,” Beddington wrote. “I hope the evidence in today's report will contribute to the policy making process.”

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Avatar of: Phil Vox

Phil Vox

Posts: 1

January 23, 2013

Heard something interesting today that relates to this: Facebook seems to be trying to figure some of the fundamentals of this out. I just watch an insanely detailed presentation that showed the results of behavioral differences and tearing back the layers to see what really fosters empathy and community in an online world. 

One of the most interesting aspects is that Facebook really takes a global view on the matter; saying that they ultimately recognize that Facebook is used MORE by people OUTSIDE the United States than in. We also get to see little hints of cultural differences, ie, cyberbullying - there was a moment during the talk when they mentioned a very common trait for social media bullying in India which seems downright strange in comparison to all of the English-speakers rageface comics and horrifyingly offensive pictures and whatnot - so here it is broken down in steps:

The bully snags a pic of the target's favorite celebrity.
Bully photoshops said celebrity with a wig(?!?!), and horrible-quality speech bubbles/text.
Bully puts the equivalent "you're stupid" in the speech bubble.

This is considered harassment in another culture. How, I can't even fathom, but it's awesome to know someone is thinking on these minutiae and tweaking them to be better.

The talks are on "Compassion" and should be archived here if anybody's interested:

Avatar of: kitapbigi


Posts: 20

February 11, 2013


I am surprised that Ian Wilmut did not win. Dolly the sheep is really the start of all these on mammallian organisms and the ethical concerns, which is what drove the research to create iPS. Anyway, it is Nobel prize, a monopoly.

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Avatar of: nashoa


Posts: 3

December 30, 2013

Social networking sites are not only FB?
There are a lot of them, some of them weak and some of them good and some of them coming forcefully to crush everyone
As the saying goes: a timeless state and Men.
Yes, this fact is a must, talking about GloballShare site for social networking.
This site has benefited from the mistakes of many of those before him, such as Facebook.
FB each period puts strict laws laws restrict users narrowing them .
Beyond that tells you when the registry is free and will remain free , and what’s the problem with that?
Not only lacking that narrows and we say one day that he became Join the money hehehehe
We use it since the time you have benefited from large ? Are we shared a few of its profits to meet our use him?
Benefit is we do not !
Global SharePoint site will profit through the ownership of shares free of charge and not money
Global site Sher open source and unrestricted 100% where everything is available
Software – games – free phone calls – free video calls – advertisements for your product and your site Free
You can make a free site and enter the Adsense advertisements easily – and much much more
All you have to do to bring your relatives and your friends to register for the site and the account will be in the following form :
Every 5 people = one share – the value of each share is now $ 40 – monthly dividends now = $ 2.47
Of course everything is on the rise , Alexa Ranking : 4609 – PR : 4
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