Early merely being used as an oral medium

Early days of mobile media communications, i.e. texting consisted of simplified, hidden messages and the use of encrypted coded messages and images and have since highly influenced our experience of how we identify ourselves. This essay explores how analysing identity includes the cultural context of things, includes youth/counter/alternative cultures and the vigilant gaze, and four subcultures being media cultures, technological culture, intense visual culture and adolescent cultures which all explore how specific cultures determine people’s experiences of identity. A key feature within certain subcultures was the encryption of coded messages, in particular, polari was established in the gay community and is still partially to used in the current day.Mobile phones were principally oral medium and 1992 saw the arrival of text messaging increasing the popularity of the device with the majority of the population owning one. Since then, oral communication devices have remained the most significant feature of the phone, especially for users with low literacy levels. This is because people commonly use ‘text talk’ to abbreviate words in their messages, for example, ‘WUU2’ means what are you up to, and, ‘LOL’ is used when something is funny. There has been a massive transformation from the mobile phone merely being used as an oral medium to now having the opportunity to do everything on your phone, for example, emailing, shopping, mapping and location services, and many more. The recent attractions have caused controversy and have evoked public discussions, Turkle, S. (1995, p.312) explains the “cultural, social and psychological impacts that the technology is likely to have which are similar to earlier communication technologies”. Turkle goes on to say that while using social networking sites, texting, and emailing other people has allowed people to communicate easily with each other online they are connecting in a superficial sense and are lacking human interaction. Although, nowadays, young people have dramatically declined interest with other people and are more concerned with building their online identity rather than face to face.The media has created a culture of the population living a mediated life where images are ubiquitous and more embracing and there has been an increase in public and private camera surveillance. This suggests that public imagery has become extremely sexually explicit by becoming normalised in television shows, magazines, websites and public advertisements. Today, young people are assuming the role of media takers, rather than just being media consumers. There has been a massive increase of mediation in media and it has impacted how society and cultures grow, to how people portray their identities on the internet. As a society, we have become significantly dependent on the media’s portrayal of topics and without consideration we believe what we have been shown. Castells. (2009, p.571) tells us that “the nature of societies and social relationships have fundamentally changed and become increasingly mediated through the use of media and communications.” Thus, this has broken traditional boundaries of what we would deem unacceptable to see on the internet and have replaced them with the normalised explicit imagery that we see online.The world is driven by digital technologies, to the point that young people who are immersed with technology are occasionally referred to as “digital natives” and their seniors who are less knowledgeable on technology are considered to be “digital immigrants” according to Palfrey, J. Gasser, U. (2008, p.384). Nowadays, camera phones are embedded within everyday life and are used to form an identity, for example, teenagers use camera phones recreationally, like taking unconventional poses with friends and using video features to enact “happy slapping.” Happy slapping is the practice of a group of people assaulting another person whilst filming the incident on their mobile, then circulating the image online. Young people tend to have a stronger attachment toward their phone, resulting in them having it the majority of the day which has led to family time being limited because people are more concerned with communicating online.Another subculture within communication technologies establishing our identity is the intense visual culture which is based on people’s appearance. This branches off to both how young people value their personal appearance, and how they see their life and other people’s lives, advertising, in particular, plays a part in influencing how females view themselves. In postmodern society, people’s appearance has become a massive factor in defining personal identity. Negrin, L. (2008, p.9) tells us that the proliferation of features in newspapers, magazines, and television concerned with health, shape, and fashioning of the body, and by the advent of a plethora of products and technologies for modifying the body, such as diet pills, exercise programs, and cosmetic surgery” has caused individuals to maintain and improve their health and physical appearance to fit in with society and if they don’t do this then it is seen as “moral laxity”. This shows the length that society has become mediated where individuals see images of “perfect” role models over all media platforms, suggesting that they should change themselves to fit in with society’s expectations. Negrin, L. (2008, p.14) then goes on to say that “no longer is the body seen as something that is fixed by biology and as having limits that cannot be transcended. Rather, it is seen as a cultural construction that is continuously being reconstituted and remodelled.” Media companies, especially advertising industries create ideologies of anything being possible, for example, advertisers show limitless improvements of how to change your body. Mobile communications have been criticised for enabling young people to explore their sexual identities unsafely by sexting. There has been a flurry of media coverage shedding light on sexting, which is the exchange of sexually explicit images on mobile devices, most commonly sent between teenagers. This is part of the adolescent culture which Chalfen. (2009, p.260) identifies as “key roles played by activated hormones within human development, sexual awakening, curiosity and activity, rebelliousness, competition, and identity seeking” by exploring their bodies and other people’s. However, according to Ling, R. & Yttri, B. (2005) sexting has often led to the recipient distributing of the picture/text message without consent to a bigger audience by sharing on social networking sites causing further complications, such as public humiliation, cyberbullying, and/or sexual assault. Due to this distribution, several young people have been charged by the police with a self-produced pornography fine, and in most cases, the images have been found to be under the legal age. According to the NCPTUP survey, 31% of teenagers between the ages of thirteen and nineteen report receiving a nude or semi-nude image or video featuring the sender, which highlights the massive amount of young people participating in the exchange of intimate imagery. Minority people have become exhibitionists where the person gains sexual gratification from either exposing their genitals or behaving in a sexual way to attract attention from another person.Polari is used as a form of coded messages within the gay community and is how people with sexual orientations speak to each other. For example, the word “camp” defines a man who was particularly effeminate and the term “basket” was used referring to the bulge of a man’s genitals through clothes. It was originally created as a form of hiding a person’s sexual preference, although some of the words have since gone into our everyday language. Baker, P. (2014, p.73) says that “polari was made quickly accessible to an audience which was not previously aware of its existence” showing how popular the coded messages became over a period of time and was placed into societies language.The vigilant gaze is growing in society and means that people are under surveillance and carefully watching each other. People are watching others and interpreting their behaviour and appearances on social networking sites to the point that they monitor what is being uploaded and when. Hier, Sean P. (2009, p.217) says that people are wearing “conceptual lenses constructed by authorised knowledge about sources in(security)” when watching others perform acts and judging them. People tend to hide what they do when they are being watched, however, people have started uploading Facebook statuses and Twitter messages about what is on their mind and their opinions. This has caused a lot of controversies and has started breaking down people’s private spheres because they are no longer concerned about what other people might think and focus more on themselves. The public participatory surveillance theory refers to the way that people engage with things and makes assumptions based on layers of public/private spheres, for example, when something happens we now have the ability to record things as they happen and upload them to social media.  In conclusion, young people are predominantly on communication devices and there is a growing use of mobiles being used to sext. There has been a recent decline in the gay community using polari as a means on hiding their sexuality due to the acceptance of different sexualities in society, but some of their vocabulary remains in people’s everyday language. Media communications mainly affect their audiences in negative ways by wanting them to change their appearance, however, because individuals buy into what the media do it will remain a vicious circle.