IM: A Help or Hindrance?
Another one of our assignments was to read the book Instant Identity, which explores the world of instant messaging and how teen girls use it. Some of the things the girls said to one another were embarrassing and awkward, but the more I read their conversations and the more I read the insights of the book, the more I found myself nodding along and realizing how true everything was that the book had to say.
The way young girls interact on the Internet is so different from in real life. The people they talk to (especially boys), the things they talk about and the way they say things can be so different from the way they are in real life that it’s almost like they are entirely different people. This leads to the idea that the Internet is a place where these young girls can experiment with different identities and personas without the fear or being judged or inhibited by physical barriers.
To an extent, I think that IM and the Internet are very beneficial in this way to young teen girls. Being able to explore identity freely is great and with the Internet they are able to explore much more than girls would have before the Internet was invented. However, I think that this is also a huge drawback. Establishing an identity on the Internet is one thing, but how will it be carried on in the real world? These girls shouldn’t be using the Internet as a crutch and hiding behind a computer screen in order to show their “true” identities. It’s a hard call to make, whether the Internet is a help or a hindrance to these girls, but as this medium grows ever more popular we are sure to see the consequences.