Why social interaction is fundamental to shaping our identity

We learn our culture though socialisation. Socialisation and the development of self is a lifelong process, influenced by the agents of socialisation including family, peers, school and media. In this digital age, we live in a society where we are not bound to our borders. It heightens the need for social interaction to help us shape our individual identity as we are freer than ever to shape ourselves as we choose. Social interaction is simply communicating face-to-face or via technology acting and reacting in relation to other people.

Individuals are now more empowered to determine the course of their lives because they have greater will and reflexivity, this process results in less reliance on the culture that we are born into.

We are often told, that the pace in which in which this world is changing will only increase. That the fragmented media world will get more frantic. So the demands on individual adaptation have grown.

If we look back on changing social circumstance, it is arguable that during the massive changes of industrialization the challenge of adaptation was even greater; and that the advent of agriculture wrought changes perhaps even more fundamental, but this may have happened more slowly and gradually.

In 2007, I was watching my best friend’s band, in a dark, dishevelled theatre, $5 covers for local bands and BYO drinks served back to you by bartenders on roller-skates. I got in a conversation with a friend, Pat. He told me he had met a girl, she was the one, but the mission of actually getting to know her seemed impossible, it was like dating five different girls in one. He was overwhelmed by how to change his tact from phone calls, to real life, to social media, to simply get this girl to like him back. Pat was at an absolute loss as to how to connect.

This story has always stayed with me. Especially when I interact across a device to the people I love. It becomes extraordinarily interesting when we think about the widespread identity in headlines and what it means for our individual identity in this digital culture.

Today, we live in a culture of constant stimulation, the self has become increasingly flexible in these environments, we are less obliged to the culture we are born into, and never have we had to be so adaptive. So we brace this world with endless boarders across our devices trying to work out who we are.

We combine elements of culture from multiple contexts. Our identity has become increasingly complex, never have we had to be as adaptive cross culture and social interaction has become fundamental to our understanding of self. We are constantly connected and interact across multiple devices (tablet, desktop, mobile) and multiple contexts (face time, email, text, social), across multiple cultures.

Online we form viral communities across the country, continent, or planet, where we communicate about subjects of common interest. Regardless of the structures, these communities are affecting identities in profound ways, from concealed identities to assuming new identities.

This has established a greater focus on reflexivity (the ability to consciously reflect on our own circumstances), which will result in less reliance on the culture we are born into. The self has become increasingly flexible, we have more autonomy to shape ourselves as we choose and are not bound to the culture we begin in.

Reflecting on all of this I will leave you with the thought; social interaction has become increasingly important in working out who we are, so make sure you take the time to look someone in the eye and have a chat be that on the bus, via skype or to your mum.

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