Normally the formation of human identity took place through a series of various experiences and social interactions. You went to school, interacted with teachers and your peers. Your performance at school, how many friends you had and what people said about you was your feedback. This feedback helped you to find out who you are. You then made a decision whether there is something you’d like to change about yourself. Because in young age your identity is still very moldable, your experiences and relationships are crucial in shaping it.
Same goes for choosing what to wear and which brands to follow. When your identity is shaping, your personal style and therefore your relationships with brands are fairly short-term. They’re more like love affairs or even one night stands than marriages or long-term partnerships.
However, when you look at today’s youth, they don’t have that same social system to provide them with the necessary feedback to shape their identity. Instead they have social media.
The relationships they have on social media are by design quite superficial and therefore not deep enough to provide valuable social feedback. However, youngsters are not able to judge the value of the comments and likes they’re receiving and tend to take everything on board, just like a sponge.
Hence that superficial and short lived social interactions form the basis of youngster’s identities. As a result their identities are becoming more fragile, temporary and easily changeable. Any comment, like or dislike they experience on social media can easily sway them in another directions. They are not set in stone but rather like a fragile tree subjected to constant winds in various directions.
Their relationships, with humans and brands, are therefore more short-term and they are more easily persuadable by adverts and promotions.
They are also living more based on emotions and short thrill fixes as they don’t experience enough real and immersive social situations online.
So the social media helped create not only a globalised environment and freedom of information sharing but also a whole new generation of fragile identities.