Nowadays, the presence of social media also influences the development of language. And language is used to construct an identity for ourselves within the different speech communities that we enter and we exit. The way we express our identity is partly through language. We also express our identity through our dress, artefacts we have around us, our accent, our way of talking, being and gesturing, and in our homes, communities and families. We create our identity through our social practices.
This article focuses on the importance of developing young adult media literacy skills in relation to Instagram use. The purpose of this study is to investigate the effects on identity development of young adults related to their pervasive use of Instagram and their necessary social media literacy skills they can employ, including understanding Instagram’s utility, the authenticity pitfalls of image-based communication, and genuine belongingness. Also what are the benefits for them who using Instagram as their online literacy practices. This research is described in a qualitative way. The data were collected in form of Screenshot and from interview that conducted to the Instagram user.
The result of this study shows that the young adults use Instagram as one of their literacy practices to show their identity, to view and critique. It is seem like their other personal identity of many Instagram users and one of their way to show it to the others. The way how they get more attention from the others is usually done in a way that is unique and unusual to attract the attention of others. Moreover, these unique and unusual ways are done in the search for identity, both for themselves and for their social group.
Keyword: Instagram, social media literacy, literacy identity
Nowadays, people are now actively to posting images and videos on Instagram for their online social network to view and critique. This deep desire to connect and identify with others is an attribute of their personality. This is became one of their way to develop their language too with each other. As stated by Pahl & Rowsell (2005, p. 98) that language is used to construct an identity for ourselves within the different speech communities that we enter and we exit. Moreover, the way we express our identity is partly through language. We also express our identity through our dress, artefacts we have around us, our accent, our way of talking, being and gesturing, and in our homes, communities and families. So, it can be called that we create our identity through our social practices.
Furthermore, personal identity or membership with a group and identification is often expressed as a desire to be like or model one’s life after someone else’s life (Bandura, 1977). People, especially young adults seek these shared experiences to create bonds that set an identification building experiences and eventually the impact of self-esteem. Abercrombie and Longhurst (1998) suggest that, as media audience members grow in identification, their identity is potentially transformed. Since a single image posted on a social networking site can produce a full range of subjective experiences, emotions and consequences, identity formation is absolutely impacted by social media experiences.
The personal, interpersonal, and social consequences Instagram users experience as a result of their Instagram use certainly affect the landscape of education and the relationships there within, introducing a previously unsearched layer of the conversation on the connection between young adult social networking sites (SNS) users and how they identify with others. Moreover, since teaching is grounded in communicative presence and practice, educators who give instruction and guidance on effectively navigating computer mediated relationships benefit the person tremendously.
In previous study conducted by Pål Aarsand & Helen Melander (2016) (2015) under the title “Appropriation through guided participation: Media literacy in children’s everyday lives”, find that digital media technologies are social and cultural artefacts that constitute an intrinsic part of many children’s everyday lives. The study of media literacy concerns both how people use technologies such as Microsoft word and skype, and the norms convention and rules that guide the activities and that are connected to socially and culturally situated practice.
Moreover, Pratiwi Retnaningdyah (2015) under the title “We Have Voices, Too: Identity, Community Empowerment, and Indonesian Domestic Workers Digital Literacy Practices”, found that IDWs actively exercise individual and collective ‘reverse discourse’ on the value and legitimacy of IDWs by engaging the blogosphere. As attempts to reconstruct their identity and empower their community, IDWs’ blogosphere is therefore produced, represented, consumed, and regulated.
Then in general, this study will investigate the effects on identity development of people especially young adults as Instagram users related to their ubiquitous use of Instagram and three necessary social media literacy skills they can employ, including understanding Instagram’s utility, and what are the benefits for them who using Instagram as their an online literacy practices.
2. Theoretical Framework
2.1 Literacy and Identity
Identity breathes life into literacy. People, both children and adults, have highly developed multilingual skills, for example, the ability to access websites in different languages. Our identities are formed bound up in the way in which we speak and we act. Writing and literacy are social and cultural processes that relate to our cultural identity. The way we see the world is part of our identity. Identity is the filter through which we present ourselves to the world. Literacy practices at home and at school link with students’ evolving sense of themselves as cultural agents.
Many studies have examined how identity informs literacy practices. People have ideas and experiences that they bring with them from other places. These are inscribed into their literacy practices and travel with them. Then, texts are motivated signs. Materials we choose to make a text of any kind bespeaks our identity. In some circumstances, meanings are best expressed through words and pictures, whereas in others, movement or three dimensions might be preferable. People’s artefacts carry with them the choices they made during the process, why they opted for red sweeps of color with a bit of green vs purple sweeps of color with a bit of green. This image can be now recognized as an artefact of identity. When we consider identity in people’ texts, it helps to remember that texts are traces of social practices (Rowsell, 2000). When texts are formed, they retain traces of the social practices of the text-maker. In this way, identities can be discerned within texts.
2.2 Social Media Literacy
Social media literacy is having the proficiency to communicate appropriately, responsibly, and to evaluate conversations critically within the realm of socially based technologies. Moreover, social media literacy is a complex of qualifications that enable interconnectedness and interaction among people via communication and sharing of information. These competences allow one to communicate in a suitable manner, to be involved, to cooperate and participate actively, to give and take, in the social environment of communication and sharing of content. A person who is literate in social media forms his/her personality, worldview and manner of social conduct, among other ways through tools for collaborating and managing information found on the website.
2.3 Instagram Genre
Instagram is one of the most popular social media in recent year. The popularity of Instagram has grown rapidly in line with the advancement of the technology. Following the pattern of the previous social media, such as Facebook and twitter, Instagram develop its own characteristic of their language expression.
Instagram, founded in 2010, derived its name from the combination of “instant camera” and “telegram.” Starting with one million monthly users, the photo-sharing app found itself with 100 million uploaded photos by July 2011 and 10 million users in September of that same year. In April 2012, the company announced passing the 30 million user mark. From that point on, use of Instagram skyrocketed. It reached 80 million monthly users after the acquisition and nearly doubled that to 150 million monthly users by the end of 2013.
Since Instagram was launching in October 2010, Instagram has made great treads in the world of social media. Couple years ago, not many people used or even knew of the photo and video sharing social network app that lets users customize their images with filters. But now more than tens of millions of users use Instagram to connect with each other through visual communication and social interaction.
The purpose of this study is to investigate the effects on identity development of young adults related to their ubiquitous use of Instagram and three necessary social media literacy skills they can employ, including understanding Instagram’s utility, the authenticity pitfalls of image-based communication, and genuine belongingness. Also what are the benefits for them who using Instagram as their online literacy practices.
The participants of the study will use a members of Instagram users. They are Afika and Naya.
The data will be collected in two types of data to be analyzed in this research; documentation and interview. Documentation is one of data source in the form of document. It can be personal, such as written documents. Ary (2010) describes documentations as “Qualitative researcher may also use written documents to gain an understanding of the phenomenon under study. These documents may be personal, such as autobiographies, diaries, and letters; official, such as files, reports, or minutes that have been prepared by observers of an event or setting; or documents of popular culture, such as book, films, and videos.”
In this research, researcher will use the documentation to collect the data related to each post of participants who become Instagram users. The documentation will be conducted by log in to the Instagram group through Personal Computer or Smartphone. The data will be collected in the form of Screenshot.
The second form to collect data is from the interview. Interview will be conducted to gain the general review of the Instagram user. The point to be questioned in the interview will be based on their reasoning behind their use of each expression. This data collection technique is used to gain the information about why they use Instagram to their literacy practices.
The complete process for the analysis will be divided into three main steps which are: Categorizing, this phase puts the findings into three categories based on their genre use in Instagram; Analyzing, this phase is conducted by analyzing the expression based on their writing in Instagram; Concluding, this is the final process which determine the result of the data; Conclusion, the conclusion will be gained after researcher finishes all the phases of the research. The conclusion will be based on the data analysis process to answer the research question. The conclusion will be focusing on the description of the effects on identity development of young adults related to their ubiquitous use of Instagram and three necessary social media literacy skills they can employ, including understanding Instagram’s utility, the authenticity pitfalls of image-based communication, and genuine belongingness. Also what are the benefits for them who using Instagram as their online literacy practices.
4. Finding and Discussion
In order to answer the purpose of this study, the researcher used the documentation to collect the data related to each post in Instagram. The data collected in the form of Screenshot. Then to brief the explanation in the finding, the researcher will use the data of participants that is Instagram users in the form of interview. They are Afika and Naya.
4.1 Result of Interview with Instagram Users
a. When do you start using Instagram and why?
“I started using Instagram in 2014, it is almost 4 years until now. I like to post a picture with some quotes there that become my feeling at that time. I really enjoy to do that because I like writing and in Instagram I can write a long writing with some picture that supported to my writing. So that, my writings were nice to see and read.”
“I started using Instagram in 2015. I used Instagram because I like to write with upload some picture there. It seems like a happiness and I enjoy it with my follower’s like on it. Instagram also interesting for me.”
Both Afika and Naya deal that Instagram is their “comfort place” to share and support their feelings in the form of long writing. It is interesting to see how Afika and Naya present themselves in the Instagram. It is also one of their way to show their personal identity to others. As stated by Dewayani & Retnaningdyah (2017, p. 78) that digital era offers a place for the social media users to create their representation in the form that they want to be. They can choose their side of personality and identity that they want. Then, digital literacy will give them a special place to them to construct their personal identity through written work. Moreover, this written work not only being the self-reconstruction but also can change personal identity.
b. What are the benefit you get from Instagram?
“Well, as I stated before that I like writing and I like Instagram because I can upload my writing with some supported picture that represent my feeling in writing. So, I get many benefits from being one of the Instagram users. I get many followers because of my writing there, and they gave me more attention and appreciation with their like on every my post. Now, my followers are about 1500 people and I really enjoy it.”
“I get many benefits from Instagram since being Instagram user. I can share many writing with a long written on my picture there. Then, I get many followers because of they like to read and interesting to my writing. They have a lot of critiques for my writing that make my writing better and better. I really enjoy to do that and also have interaction with others through my writing.”
Both Afika and Naya above stated that they get many benefits of using Instagram. They also construct their literacy that show their identity through online media. According to Stets and Burke (2000, p. 225) stated that two important processes are involved in social identity formation, that are ‘self-categorization’ and ‘social comparison’.
Here, self-categorization looks for perceived similarities between oneself and others and places them in an ‘in-group’. Those without similarity are placed in an ‘out-group’, which is less desirable to connect with. In brief, Instagram in general is one of important ‘places’ where youth develop their personal identities, and using them allows for mediation of relationships with friends, romantic partners and broader groups of peers (Ito, et al., 2009). While they also can use oft-edited images with little contextual description can impact identity development in young adults. The young adult Instagrammer who bases his or her self-esteem in the number of ‘likes’ his or her photograph receives can suffer negative consequences such as rejection and self-disapproval, when the expected number of ‘likes’ is not met.
Moreover, it is impossible to quantify a preferred or desired number of ‘likes’ because no certain criteria exist to define how many ‘likes’ create a positive feedback. However, some young adults will promptly take an image off their site if it does not receive enough ‘likes’ within minutes of posting. This immediate action is a form of self-protection from the rejection users feel when comparing their images with other posts.
Media-literate Instagram users must understand that the essence of the app is used. In other words, it is simply a utility to express oneself in an artistic way. While it may be possible to categorize the images (think ‘hashtag’ labels), it is not always possible to know the truth or intention of a photo presented. Any given image is one person’s art canvas approach to sharing what they think other users may like. Lee, Lee, Moon and Sung (2015, p. 552) examined the underlying psychological and social motives for Instagram use for adults. Then, they concluded that the five primary motives are social interaction, archiving, self-expression, escapism and peeking. The fact that any given image may be altered to reflect one or more of these motives should indicate to users that what is posted does not necessarily represent reality or give criteria for how life offline should be lived. Furthermore, posts should not be used as criteria for ways in which one should live their lives. Using Instagram photos in a prescriptive manner is not the ideal way to develop a healthy self-identity. Therefore, understanding the pitfalls of comparing oneself to others based on their online persona is the next key for developing social media literacy.
For people especially young adults, social comparison is constant, and when comparisons are not positively supported their social identity suffers. Then, Social Identity Theory recognizes that the consequence of the social comparison process is the selective application of the accentuation effect, primarily to those dimensions that will result in self-enhancing outcomes for the self (Stets & Burke, 2000). With their comparisons being so iconic in nature, images posted without context fail to the users to make a fair social comparison, thus lessening their self-enhancing behavior. To that end, one cannot control what perceptions others may have of their representative images.
Furthermore, many young adults claim that Instagram is mindless entertainment, and as such the attention-less scrolling of images proves easy to miss images. They enjoy to share their photo with some writings there also. The more advertising and promotional images Instagram allows also present opportunity for images to go unseen and therefore left without a ‘like’. Unless an indicator is added to actually express ‘dislike’ it is impossible to know how other users really feel about images posted. This creates the need for young adults to reconcile what genuine ‘belonging’ is in a social online context.
Social media literacy results from understanding Instagram’s utility. Then, the downfalls of social comparisons made between online relationships and how to better define genuine belongingness as it relates to mediated communication. The connection between young adult Instagram users and the potential consequences to their identity formation as a result of their use of Instagram.
Additionally, it aimed to encourage social media literacy enhancement through the examination of Instagram’s utility. Moreover, social comparison and genuine belonging can help people especially young adults on Instagram live concurrently in their ‘real’ and mediated worlds with peaceful volition. Furthermore, for the Instagram users, literacy practice that they used in an online is commonly done to mark certain social groups, especially youth groups. This way is their effort to show their identity, both for themselves and for their social group.