Wednesday, January 03, 2007

"Forgot your login? Time for a change."

Via Slashdot, we get these observations from apophenia about ephemeral profiles in social networking among teenagers:
Teens are not dreaming of portability (like so many adults i meet). They are happy to make new accounts on new sites; they enjoy building out profiles. (Part of this could be that they have a lot more time on their hands.) The idea of taking MySpace material to Facebook when they transition is completely foreign. They're going to a new site, they want to start over.

The author speculates that tying social networking to mobile numbers might change things -- but right now, social networking profiles are like clothes, temporary ways to craft temporaryThis attitude contrasts sharply with those of adults, who are more interested in creating coherent online identities.

Although I doubt they meant it in this way, it strikes me that teen behavior here could function as a protective adaptation, alllowing them to avoid the consequences of earlier identity choices. When people try to maintain a coherent online identity, they become accountable to the statements and positions that they take over the course of their life. But if they change accounts -- and identities -- several times in the course of their life, there's no clear trail to follow and it's obvious that their statements are things they are simply trying on.

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