My name is Tailor Walmer and I have focused my research and ideas around the concept that people are losing their sense of individuality due to technology and the online modern culture.
The TED talk given by Paru Bensal really encompasses a lot of my ideas and arguments.
Her claims really made me think deeper on the idea of what makes a person an individual. She said that everyone has somebody in their life that has helped shape them to be who they are: whether it be a mentor, teacher, enemy, or a friend. She says that we need the interactions with these other people in order for us to figure out who we are as humans and what our place is in life.
People like to be connected and feel like they belong or are part of a group. We join facebook pages or follow certain trends because we like the things presented and we can easily find people to share in our likes and interests. We want people to relate to us but we lose the conversation. In a normal person relationship, we talk about more things than just the type of band we both like. In these online fan clubs however, there is only one topic discussed. One thing that people can relate to, so we are not developing our character and out personal interests. We are stagnant.
When we indulge too much in online culture, we lose person-to-person skills and skills in communication and understanding. It is easy to be fake on a screen but harder in real life. Online makes it easier to lie or hide your true self while in person, we are exposed and more likely to relate to others.
My sister and I once set up a fake profile on an online site just for fun. We immediately had hundreds of followers and people "liking" our information even though none of the pictures or information was real. We posted information that was obviously very far fetched such as "climbed everest yesterday lol", "going to a party at Chris Evans's house" and even "my baby kitty is in my shoe! So cuuute!! hahah lol :)". How can we be individuals and understand who our true selves really are if we have the ability to hide things when we create online profiles. It is easy to be fake or lie when the other person cannot see your eyes. It is incredibly easy to become someone you truly are not - how are we supposed to know what profiles are fake and which ones are real?
People have always fought for the ability to be seen and cherished as individuals in their everyday culture. Martin Luther is a perfect example of the need to be recognized as an individual. He broke away from the wildly popular Catholic church because he disagreed with their practices. He started his own movement based on what he believed was just and right. In his day, online culture was not even a thought. Luther had to discuss his ideas with contemporaries and peers face to face as much as possible. He had no screen to hide behind. Direct contact discussing ideas makes people develop into individuals who have their own set of values and beliefs. We are losing this because social media has taken this ability to communicate and simplified it into superficial profiles that we judge based on their photos and what movies they like.
Our society needs to remember that to be an individual, you have to react face to face and communicate in person. Until this is globally realized, humankind will continue to degrade as people lose the chance to become a recognized individual.