How is Gender Blurred Online?

Throughout time, gender has always been apart of one’s distinguishing features. It has shaped one’s identity simply through phrases such as, “male” or “female”. Up until the most recent century, gender has been an identifiable feature and a limiting factor. However, all that changed with the creation of the internet. As previously stated by many articles, almost creating its own cliche, the internet offers an anonymous factor that cannot be matched anywhere in the real world. The internet’s appeal is combination of anonymous factors distorted to create one’s identity, regardless of the factual reality of it or not. This also includes, but is not limited to, gender.

It is easy for one to blur their own gender, along with someone else’s, while online. It is a place that can exist in dark space, hardly revealing the truth. While online it is easy for one to ignore their “actual” identity, or how they would be perceived in the real world. Many accounts are hardly checked for “true identity”, as that would be an invasion of privacy. Many accounts are created simply for fandoms or fan-based purposes, which at that level, would simply destroy the identity of gender, or gender-identitfieable users, as the common factor would be of interest, not gender. Gender is slowly becoming a thing of the past; it is no longer used to identify one’s self, but is used simply for romantic purposes and sexual orientation affiliation. All of those would be useful for dating sites, however it is not for social media accounts and other interest based websites online. Gender is becoming “blurred” online through the extinction of usage by individuals online.

How does gender influence a person’s online identity?

In the TED talk,  “Social media and the End of Gender,” Johanna Blakley stated that social media may be the motivator to end gender stereotypes and expectations. She continued by saying that within social media users usage, women were the most active, making women the main drivers on social media. Blakley alluded to social media, in the near future, being determined, strictly, by data, in terms of advertisement data collection, differing from the demographics they attempt to appeal to currently, would help to end gender identity online. However, for advertisements to be focused on the correct demographic, basic information gathered would consist of age and gender. Although gender does not have to be specified online, it is preferred for advertisement companies, which would be considered the main and actual drives of the internet. There could be a possible extinction of gender identity online, however that would also require an extinction of advertisement companies and possible extinction of gender identity in the real world, as well.

Gender influence’s one’s identity online through familiarity. Gender, throughout our entire life, remains constant, whether it be the gender we were born as or the gender we feel inside. It is apart of our identity 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. To rid ourselves of gender influence, we would rid ourselves of our identity.

Johanna Blakley, “Social media and the End of Gender,” 2010, 
http://www.ted.com/talks/johanna_blakley_social_media_and_the_end_of_gender?langu age=en