The Internet has been around for quite a number of years now and its use is getting more popular every day. Some people even seem to live on the Internet, especially adolescents. They game online, use chat rooms, instant message, email, download music, write in weblogs and can do almost anything else online too. The use of weblogs, however, has grown tremendously since the beginning of the Internet. Adolescents use weblogs for many different reasons, such as writing about daily life, speaking about trouble their facing, talking to others, and even just to share pictures and ideas with the people reading it. The use of weblogs has been much debated over in recent times though because many scholars believe that the youth online is using weblogs to help in the search for their self-identity. Although some scholars may disagree, many would say that it is good for adolescents to search for self-identity online and the majority of youth use weblogs to aid this process.
Weblogs are just a type of online diary that adolescents use. This diary becomes somewhere that the authors can be themselves and everything can be centered on them, where all things are observed, taken into perspective, and understood in the conscious mind (Kitzmann 51). Many adolescents, even without the Internet, have views about the world that are extremely varied and can be directly contradicting, leaving the use of the weblog as a place where the person can sort out their own thoughts (Hevern 330). By sorting out thoughts and ideas in weblogs, the author is helped to be more self-aware and can even get feedback that may be helpful from other bloggers (Kitzmann 52). Participating in the weblog community by writing about themselves and commenting on other people's writing, adolescents can gain confidence in being who they are, as well as be accepted by others and find others that are similar to them, therefore leading them to find a sense of belonging (Matsuba 277). The feedback received from readers can be very helpful for the author and even aid in the search for a more personal self.
Weblogs can be used for many different purposes, so just because someone uses a weblog does not necessarily mean that they are searching for self-identity. Many people use weblogs simply as a form of communication because, while writing, "the audience is not only anticipated, but expected" and can even change the way in which the author writes (Kitzmann 56). Therefore, the use of a weblog can be seen the same way as instant messaging, emailing, and any other form of online communication. Many entries on weblogs, of which people read, are useful to readers and authors to enter into a specific conversation with each other over different topics (Hevern 331). In this way, adolescents connect with each other simply just to talk. When getting feedback from readers on weblogs, however, the author even if trying to search for self-identity, may not be helped and could actually be harmed from receiving comments from others. Feedback can be just for communication, and even if it is not for communication purposes, it can be harmful and unproductive.
It is good for adolescents to search for self-identity online and the majority of youth use weblogs to aid this process, but feedback is not always helpful and can be just another way of communication. This form of communication is just as easily available for people as instant messaging, email, and chat rooms, which are all used solely for communicating with others. Also, statistics show that the amount of time that people spend online is positively correlated with loneliness, more specifically speaking, the use of chat rooms is also very positively correlated with loneliness (Matsuba 279-280). This can suggest that very lonely people use the Internet and chat rooms more then people that are not so lonely. These lonely people can use weblogs in the same way, as a source of communication and have it not be helpful for identity purposes. Negative comments from readers are also not so helpful to the author. In fact, this kind of negative feedback can actually hinder a person and, therefore, their search for self-identity is not actually being helped.
Communication, however, can be useful in an adolescents search for self-identity. In Matsuba's research, he found that "self-concept clarity was negatively associated with the communication motive" (283). In other words, the more people want to communicate online, the lower the person is on a scale of how clear they are about their own identity. This suggests that, even though weblogs can be used for solely communication, it is still for the purpose of searching for self-identity. It also seems to imply that using that Internet in different ways, whether instant messaging, email, chat rooms, weblogs, games, or music, can just be the adolescents way of trying to work with all the different aspects of their own self-identity and trying to piece it all together (Matsuba 283). In that way, it is good for adolescents to search for self-identity online and some of the youth population use weblogs to aid in this process, but feedback is not always helpful and can be just another way of communication, even though this communication can help in the search for self-identity also.
Communication with others is often seen as mandatory to being able to find identity of the self. The communication used in weblogs can help the author sort out thoughts and ideas in order to form a fully developed self, instead of just fragmented pieces of one's personality (Hevern 330). The adolescents writing entries in weblogs use them to remember things, to have documentation for people in the future, and to build their own identity, both in themselves and in their community. They use these things to write about themselves as a way specifically to generate responses or to modernize them. "To make the self modern isâ€¦ to reflect uponâ€¦ one's self as an individualâ€¦ destined to determine one's fate and future. The place of the page thus becomes the place of the future, of the self made man or womanâ€¦ I write about myself, therefore I am" (Kitzmann 53). By writing in a weblog, the authors can view themselves at a different perspective and can see what others think about them. In the aspect of social psychology, people view themselves through the eyes of their peers. Adolescents find out who they are from what other people say about them (Breckler 126). Weblogs, as well as any other form of communication, therefore aids the process of searching for self-identity.
Adolescents using weblogs to search for self-identity, however, has been debated on whether it is good or bad. In some cases, using weblogs can go either way. It's good for the purpose of externalizing internal thoughts instead of just keeping all thoughts and feelings bottled up inside (Hevern 327). Letting out aggression, sadness, and even happiness is good to do through writing, especially when it is not possible to do otherwise. Also, listening to what others have to say can help the adolescent search and refine their personality in order to piece together their own self-identity. However, using weblogs as the only means to find self-identity can be bad for adolescents. If the Internet is used too much, it may be "hindering them in facing life in the real world and thus preventing them from developing an adult identity" (Matsuba 283). Even though overly using weblogs is bad for youth, using weblogs while searching for self-identity is mostly good if a happy medium can be found.
Adolescents searching for self-identity online can be either good or bad depending on how much reliance is placed on the Internet. Some of the youth population uses weblogs to aid this process, but feedback is not always helpful and can be just another way of communication. However, this communication can help in the search for self-identity also. Adolescents need to be able to write about themselves and their own thoughts in weblogs to be able to organize their own worlds. It is like piecing a puzzle together that can be very difficult and confusing at first, but always ends up a very intricate masterpiece. In the same way, the adolescent has to construct its own self, putting together opinions, thoughts, and ideas about the world and, in the end, make a very complicated, but organized and complete self-identity.