Factors Affecting Personal Identity Essay Example
Social identity is how we want others to know to see us. It can vary from one's gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and race. There are many factors these days that affect how someone's social identity is developed. The three most important factors which shape social identity are social media, stereotypes, and finally, an individual's life experiences.
The first factor that affects one's social identity is social media. In the past few years, social media has played a prominent role in teenagers' lives. Ninety percent of teenagers between the ages of thirteen and seventeen use social media, which alters their social identity. Social media has made many false beauty standards that people are expected to follow. Everyone is different, and narrowing beauty down to a few traits makes most people look down on themselves. The documentary "The Social Dilemma" shows a teenage girl posting on her social media. At first, she posts a picture with no filter, it gets only two likes, and she deletes it. Then she takes a picture, puts many filters on it, and posts it again. This time she got many likes and supportive comments, but there was one girl who commented, "Can you make your ears bigger??? Haha." The comment made the girl feel insecure about her ears, which was never a problem before. This example from "The Social Dilemma" shows the problems with social media. When talking about social identity, self-worth, and individuality is very important. Social media and its high standards make one's confidence shatter and decrease. The girl in the documentary had self-confidence, but one comment on social media made her feel insecure about her ears and covered them. Millions of people worldwide are trying to look and be like someone else on the media when they are perfect just the way they are. Everyone's Social identity is becoming more and more alike because of the expectations put on them. To sum it up, social media is an essential factor because it strips people of their social identity and makes them want to be someone they are not.
The next factor that changes social identity is stereotypes. Stereotypes are very dangerous and false images placed on people. Stereotypes can be made on different races, ethnicities, genders, and many more. They make a person feel like they need to fit into that stereotype, or else they will not be accepted. People use stereotypes to categorize people instead of seeing who they truly are. Stereotypes affect social identity because people have the desire to make themselves fit into the stereotypes. In TedTalk with America Ferrera, she talks about her own experiences. When she was 15 years old, she got her first audition for a commercial. When she went to her audition, the casting director told her, "Could you do that again, but this time, sound more latina" (America Ferrera, 1:36-1:43). When America Ferrera went to that audition, the casting director saw her as a Latina who could do a fake and stereotypical accent. He did not care that she was a talented and authentic Latina who could be a good fit for the role. Since the stereotypes put on Latinas for speaking broken English was in the casting director's head, America did not get the part. "I stayed out of the sun so that my skin wouldn't get too brown, I straightened my curls into submission. I constantly tried to lose weight, I bought fancier and more expensive clothes. All so that when people looked at me, they wouldn't see a too fat, too brown, too poor Latina" (America Ferrera, 4:38-4:58). These examples show that just like America, stereotypes pressure many people into fitting amongst stereotypes put on people like them just to be accepted. This affects one's social identity because they can not be themself and can not show everyone who they really are. They might be ashamed of being something different because they are not whom everyone thinks they should be. To conclude, stereotypes have a significant impact on someone's social identity because it pushes people to be someone they are not, just because it is how society assumes they must be.
The last factor that affects social identity is an individual's life experiences. Everyone has a different life story, but that does not mean everyone does not come across problems. Some people have it harder than others, but every individual's problems and challenges help make them the person they are. "Real life hit me like a tidal wave. Outside the protection of academia, I became intensely aware that I had never learned how to work for things" (Jones 2019). An example that can prove that social identity can be affected by a person's life experiences is being gifted. When someone is gifted, it means that their intellectual ability is higher than the average person. Many people think that a gifted person's life is much more comfortable because they do not need to try as hard to succeed. In the quote by Heather M. Jones, a gifted person, it shows how even gifted people have unique problems they need to face. Since everything came effortlessly to heather academic wise, she never learned the lesson of failure, which made life afterward very challenging. Her life experiences with being gifted helped shape who she is and build her social identity. "Most of the kids I meet are much more international and multicultural than I am. And they have one home associated with their parents, but another associated with their partners, a third connected maybe with the place they happen to be, a fourth connected with the place they dream of being, and many more besides" (Pico Lyer, 2:05-2:25).
Another example that shows how social identity can be affected by a person's life experiences is all the places one has lived. Some people live in the same place their whole lives, and some move around from place to place. Where someone comes from is considered a social identity factor, but not everyone knows where they are from or belong. The quote from Picco Lyer's TedTalk expresses how some kids think about "home," they think of many different places. Each of these places helps enhance one's social identity. Therefore, a person's life experiences can influence social identity because it takes one's problems to help build character and wisdom.
To sum it up, the three most fundamental components that impact social identity are social media, stereotypes, and finally, an individual's life experiences. Social media makes a false reality for people and makes them have low self-confidence, stereotypes pressure people to be the same as people like them, and life experiences help form one's character.