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Jessi OConnell
English 114B
Professor J. Rodrick
22 February 2016
Emotional Turmoil within Identity
The usage of the internet in modern day is insane. The internet is being abused with all of
its information that is accessed within seconds around the world. Yet, that does not mean that the
internet is not affecting its users; online usage may have quite a few pros, such as helping a
student, or employees, create a project with solid evidence, but the identity of a human being
gets molded in a negative aspect with every click of a button, or, with modern technology, a
touch of a finger. The internet changes a humans identity negatively through three main
subjects: social media, easily accessed information, and a false sense of security online with
emotional turmoil.
Technology is a never-ending fascination within the world. It continuously changes,
adapts, and shrinks with each new year. Once, the World Wide Web was found on a huge
computer that tended to stay on a computer desk during 1990, since that was the year it was
invented by Tim Berners-Lee. From the colossus computer, it changed to a laptop that was about
15 inches, then it shrunk to 11 inches. It was quickly followed by a handheld device called a
cellular phone that contained buttons at first, then became entirely touch screen. The internet
went from being in one room of a building, to be everywhere in the blink of an eye. With the
rapid change of technology within the internet, it strung about a new, hidden line. This line
involves social media, and with social media it brought addiction.
In Karan Chopras article, The Effects of Social Media on How We Write and Speak,
adds more support to the fact that young minds are getting a serious addiction to technology,
namely social media. Putting down our social media connections to focus on the ones right in

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front of us is something that takes a real effort (Chopra, par. 10). It is a constant struggle to keep
social media away from a young ones hand, let alone put it down for merely a few seconds.
With social media in the palm of ones hand, an invisible chain gets
linked to the wrist, trapping its user in its virtual reality that is
induced via online (picture on the left). Excessive internet usage
usually strikes teenagers (ages 13-17) and young adults (ages 18-22)
the most. This age group is the focus of middle school through
college, the transitioning years that matter the most with identity. According to the Huffington
Post, only 8 percent of teens are able to resist going online every day (Steyer, par. 4). With so
many young, moldable minds focused on social media, their identities adapt to the content within
each social network that is utilized. Their language is one aspect that is changed from social
media jargon. Proper grammar is not seen on social media usually. Most users abandon correct
grammar and punctuation as well as even go as far to shorten words using abbreviations (l.o.l.
for laugh out loud) and made-up words (cray for crazy). The constant usage of social network
jargon tends to take effect on the young minds and the users tend to start using the jargon outside
of social media networks. Soon the jargon gets introduced into the real world; the line between
real life and virtual life gets blended into a blurry mess.
Writing in schools has taken a turn downwards. Students probably do not realize that they
are using social media jargon in school, but it is a fact that writing in the classroom is no longer
the same since social networks were invented. In Ryan Lytles article, How Slang Affects
Students in the Classroom, it talks about the intense decrease in high school writing. Terry
Wood, a foreign language teacher at St. Marys Ryken High School in Leonardtown, Md., has
seen a dramatic decline in the writing abilities of her students due to Tweeting, Facebook, and

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texting (Lytle, par. 3). Social media is affecting writing for high school students in such a
drastic and noticeable way.
Another way that identity is being shaped through the internet is through easily accessed
information. Google, invented by Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 1998, has been providing
internet users with information for nearly two decades. The search engine brings most websites
from around the world within milliseconds, it even tells you how many results were found and
how long it took to find all of them. For example, if a person typed in hi into the search engine,
Google would state below the search engine in a smaller and lighter font About 9,290,000,000
results (0.43 seconds) (Google). With so much information at the tip of ones fingers,
homework has never been made so easy. Google helps provide so many resources to help
plagiarize an essay, produce answers to a quiz from people who previously had the same
professor as another, and even summarize books on a website known as SparkNotes. Through
this, integrity becomes a grey color; it is neither black nor white any more. Cheating is no longer
the extent of merely looking over at a neighbors test answers, now it is stretched into an endless
amount of online access that is reached from just about anywhere (usually has to be a signal to
connect to the internet) on this planet.
The website SparkNotes is a database of summarized books that are old and new. For
students who are reading Shakespeare, Harper Lee, or F. Scott Fitzgerald, there is a character
synopsis as well as chapter overviews. Students can now read summaries of the book rather than
actually read the book. A sentence that is found on the websites homepage is When your books
and teachers don't make sense, we do (SparkNotes). The website does have simpler ways of
explaining a book, but it kills the sense of understanding literacy by ones self. It affects the
identity of an individual by claiming that the internet is better than taking the time to figure out

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hard situations. Why struggle when the answers are right in front of your face with the touch of a
button or finger? It kills integrity and hard work and tells a person that laziness is okay in life,
when really it is not. Not everything is handed down to people. Hard work is a necessary part of
life, and the internet nails it into heads that the easiest route is always the best route; it causes no
headaches.
With the emergence of the internet, a new idea was created; it was the idea of an invisible
wall. A false sense of security was invented alongside the creation of socializing websites such as
dating websites or social media websites. Through this invisible wall, a phenomenon called
ghosting was invented. According to Urban Dictionary, ghosting is the act of suddenly
ceasing all communication with someone (Ghosting). Ghosting is used when one wishes to
cease all communication with another person. It is done through simply ignoring and blocking
people on social media networks as well as ignoring communication in person as well. If a
person cannot handle confrontation in person, online confrontation seems a bit easier. No looks
from the persons eyes can change the ghosters mind or seem small and give up the idea.
Instead, courage seems to spring about from not being able to avoid confrontation and use the
internet instead as a form of confrontation. In a sense, false security and courage is given to the
user and makes the user even seem powerful to do things that (s)he would not normally do in
person. It strings an addiction once more through this false sense of security online.
However, it could also bring about an emotional/traumatic event such as catfishing or
even cyberbullying. Catfishing is when a person uses falsified information online to make a
person fall into an online trap. It is a form of cyberbullying and usually ends up emotional
scarring an internet user. It affects an identity because it drives fear into the individual. Fear is a
dangerous emotion that can drive a person to do the unthinkable. Serious harm can be done

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physically, which can mentally lead the person to seclude themselves from the world, and could
even cause depression, which sometimes leads to suicide. Such can be sprung about from such
emotional turmoil. Forms of harassment can be posting humiliating photos, texting vicious
rumors, posting that a student is gay and making fun of him, and pretending to befriend a lonely
person (Nauret, par. 12) which are found online. Negative thoughts form into the mind, and,
usually, the mind believes that the owner of it is at fault for bringing about the harassment, when,
in fact, it is not. The internet might prove useful for figuring out facts and proving evidence for
projects, but the affect it leaves on an individuals identity is scarring and could be irreversible
damage.
Falsified information is utilized on many social media networks, mainly dating websites
as a joke. Unfortunately, it is used to catfish people. Online users are tricked into believing that
people are really who they say they are online. For example, a 50 year old man could pretend,
and appear, as a 17 year old boy trying to drag in young teenaged girls. Such things are cruel and
mean and can really affect a mind emotionally. If one did fall for the cruel trick and eventually
found out it was all a lie, the emotional damage that was done could lead to serious trust issues or
even a timid or secluded personality; it would affect the individuals identity in the sense of
emotional trauma, affecting the mind more than the body.
Internet usage has certainly changed over the past two decades. It has helped shape a
humans identity in a more negative aspect through social media, easily accessed information,
and a sense of false security with emotional trauma. The internet has proven useful at times, but
when it comes to help shaping the minds of young ones, it tends to shine with a more negative
light than a positive one.

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Works Cited
Andrews, Evan. "Who Invented the Internet?" History.com. A&E Television Networks, 18 Dec.
2013. Web. 19 Feb. 2016. <http://www.history.com/news/ask-history/who-invented-theinternet>.
Bellis, Mary. "Who Invented Google?" About.com Inventors. About.com, 19 Dec. 2014. Web. 19
Feb. 2016. <http://inventors.about.com/od/gstartinventions/a/google.htm>.
Chopra, Karan. "The Effects of Social Media on How We Write and Speak." SocialMediaToday.
SocialMediaToday, 17 Sept. 2013. Web. 19 Feb. 2016.
<http://www.socialmediatoday.com/content/effects-social-media-how-we-speak-andwrite>.
Doyle, Michael. "Social Media Addiction: Facebook (Infographics)." Web Design & Marketing
Web Advice & Tips. TWMG Blogs, 12 Nov. 2015. Web. 19 Feb. 2016.
<http://blog.twmg.com.au/social-media-addiction-facebook-infographic/>.
(Multimodal Source)
Ellison, Nicole. "DR3: Social Media and Identity." Future Identities: Changing Identities in the
UK the next 10 Years (2013): 2-17. Government Office for Science. Web. 13 Feb. 2016.
"Ghosting." Urban Dictionary. Urban Dictionary. Web. 19 Feb. 2016.
<http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=ghosting>.
"Google." Google. Web. 19 Feb. 2016. <https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=hi>.
Krotoski, Aleks. "Online Identity: Is Authenticity or Anonymity More Important?" The
Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 19 Apr. 2012. Web. 13 Feb. 2016.
Lytle, Ryan. "How Slang Affects Students in the Classroom." U.S. News & World Report. U.S.
News & World Report LP, 13 June 2011. Web. Feb. 2016.
<http://www.usnews.com/education/high-schools/articles/2011/06/13/how-slang-affectsstudents-in-the-classroom>.
Nauert, Rick, Ph.D. "Online Personality Influences Real-Life Identity." Psych Central News.
Psych Central. Web. 13 Feb. 2016.
SparkNotes. SparkNotes, 2016. Web. 19 Feb. 2016. <http://www.sparknotes.com/>.
Steyer, Carly. "8 Fascinating Facts About How Teens Use The Internet And Social Media." Huff
Teen. The Huffington Post, 20 July 2015. Web. 19 Feb. 2016.
<http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/tk-facts-about-teens-on-social-media-that-arereally-scary_us_55a7c6f0e4b0896514d06eab>.