Saatchi & Saatchi Design

Brand identity, positioning and design communications.

Youth culture & the evolution of social identity

I was alerted to the work of Michael Hulme of Lancaster University through our client, YouthNet. Professor Hulme researches how young consumers interact using mobile telephony and social media. His findings offer insights into the growth of social media and how young people project their social identity.

I loved the concept of Hybrid life – the idea that people no longer distinguish between their life on and off line. Rather, it’s all one vast continuum with the virtual world as real as the tangible one. We see examples of this like:

  • The couple who divorced because the husband was spending too much time with another avatar on Second Life.
  • New opportunities for all of us – from the professional to the 16 year old – to construct an idealised identity online. Everyone wants to present their best face to the world – a modern form of branded propaganda, like the official images of Elizabeth I.

I wonder where all this is leading? What impact is social media having on our sense of identity – on and offline?

Do we have multiple identities adapted for different purposes – subtly different for Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn? Are we witnessing an accelerated evolution of the virtual and individual self towards hybrid personalities?

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