Identity Crisis in the Post-Smartphone Age In 2020, filmmakers Jamin and Kiowa Winans released the social media documentary “Childhood 2.0: The Living Experiment” which investigates the real-life issues that kids today are facing every day. These issues include cyberbullying, online predators, suicidal ideation, and more. Besides, it illustrates how social media has greatly exacerbated the ongoing identity crisis among the Millennials and Generational Z (Gen Z) individuals and created cognitive impairments in the hormonal growths of teenagers. These individuals are now facing an uncommon catastrophe, the invasion of our privacy, and identity. Stranger in the Bedroom With the advent of Snapchat in 2011 and assessment of its social impacts in 2015, Kate Eichhorn, author of the widely acclaimed book “The End of Forgetting: Growing Up with Social Media”, people were sharing at least 30 million images per hour on Snapchat. Also, it was found that British parents posted approximately 200 photographs of their child online each year. The amount of public access that today’s children and teenagers receive is unprecedentedly worrying. Whenever any child or teenager uses his or her smartphone in their bedrooms, it facilitates massive opportunities for scammers and sexual predators to play into their young self-esteem and manipulate for immoral benefits. It is likened to having many uninvited strangers in the child or teenager’s bedroom without any awareness of their presence. Given such a social phenomenon, what will be the effect on the development of children and teenagers’ identities in today’s world? Power to Portray My “Who I am” With greater access to social media these days, children and teenagers have gained a level of control which will not be possible 15 years ago. Before the release of smartphones and the introduction of social media, it was common that parents would refuse children’s forms of independent, ideological expressions and enforce personal beliefs on the way they should be brought up. Parents were the ones who had the power to take photos and decide which ones would be created to construct the children’s growing-up narratives. However, this is no longer the norm in the 21st century. Today, young individuals have the power to create images and share them in public without the interference of adults. The sense of autonomy has empowered them to create the sort of identities that best fit their ideologies, which are greatly influenced by social media. With such independence granted to individuals at a young age, what will be the cognitive effects on their growth development? Screen Memories The 21st-century technology, which ushers into the era of smartphones, has allowed us to create the narratives of our own lives, decide what to remember and how to build our personal patterns of beliefs in public. However, long before young people were able to create, edit, and curate images of their lives, they were already doing it on a mental level. In his 1899 paper “Screen Memories”, Sigmund Freud argued that we have the power to possess distorted memories and these are more based on visuals than verbal expressions. The use of screen memories is suggested to alleviate the pain of horror in an individual’s past and transform the traumatic scenes into something that is reassuringly more innocuous and manageable. Social media has become an accessible platform for such individuals to capitalize and impose their preferred screen memories to cope with personal anguish and insecurities. In other words, they can portray the person whom they want to be in the online world through carefully selected photographs and videos. Charisma: Destroyer of Facades Charisma, defined as the innate confidence built from self-acceptance and contentment, is pivotal to stopping the endless, ultimately futile efforts of self-deceptive identities which only serve to plunge oneself into the abyss of depression and disillusionment. Without an honest reflection and acceptance of who we really are individuals, the confidence created through online facades is merely a vapor in the wind. Such confidence is fleeting and not trustworthy. It only serves to welcome more confusion and dissatisfaction, unless the person is willing to embrace their imperfections and accept the fact that his or her reason for being is to become the best version of himself or herself. Not the second-best of anyone whom they idolize, but the top-rated version of themselves. Is your happiness dependent on people’s likes and positive comments online? Is it judgment-proof and resilient enough to thrive amidst the waves of criticism? The key to resilient confidence lies in your choice to truly accept yourself and leverage your strengths and weaknesses. The power of Charisma, when fully tapped upon is able to overpower any identity crisis and enable anyone to serve others at his or her best ability.
About the Author
Jeremiah Teo is a World-Class Charisma Coach who specializes in clients’ personal confidence empowerment through capitalism on innate strengths, and exponential growth in high communicative performance over the past 10 years. Apart from developing life skills training curriculum for Singapore’s Ministry of Education and leading training seminars for various primary, secondary, and tertiary institutions, Jeremiah Teo also conducts public communications training for sales professionals in wide-range industries. Some of his clients include Changi Airport Group, Novartis Pharmaceuticals, AIA Group, Resort World Sentosa, Western Sydney University, Lingnan University and many more.
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