Identities in Different Centuries

In 1705 I would not have much of an identity. More than likely I would just be recognized by association with my family and our ethnicity of being Native American instead of as an individual. Unless I am married which isn’t uncommon for this time period then I would be identified as my husbands wife. In 1805 I would want to identify myself as the matriarch of an industry such as coal. I would be very active in the economic movements occurring. In 1905 I would identify myself by my full first, middle, and last name. I would take pride in my employment and establish my social status by attending formal events and associating with higher class people. In 2005 I would identify myself as a very studious person who goes by first and last name and ID numbers such as Driver’s license, school ID’s, and social security numbers. I would be on many social websites such as youtube, myspace, and AIM.

Constructing Identity Through the Centuries

I really could not imagine being alive in a time period where there was no such thing as the internet or cell phones. They have become such a big part of my life that this weeks assignment really made me think. In our FSEM we were told to make a post about how we would construct our identities if we were 18 in 1705,1805.1905,and 2005.
If I were 18 in 1705, I would not have much of an identity to construct. Back then I don’t even know if I would have made it to the age of 18 since there wasn’t much advancement in modern medicine and life spans were much shorter. But if I was I would probably be some sort of caretaker on a farm, as most women in that time were. One of this week’s readings called “Seeing Ourselves Through Technology” mentions how in this time period the personal diary became popular and you would write all of your thoughts and ideas in there since there weren’t many people to talk to. But being a woman it would be harder to use the personal diary since most were illiterate at this time and would have to use face to face communication to talk to others.
In 1805, not much would have changed from 100 years earlier except that the US would become free from Britain giving it more freedoms. If I was 18 in this time period I would still probably be a caretaker on a farm and treated with little respect due to being a woman. My identity might have been constructed through my status whether I was rich or poor. The people I communicate with would be limited and based on location since traveling far distances would take a long time and the US was not very urbanized yet and consisted of farms mostly.
If I were 18 in 1905, I would gave newer opportunities since women’s suffrage was a large topic and women were fighting for more freedoms. I could start constructing my identity by doing things for myself. New inventions like the car and radio were coming into existence and I could be forming my identity through the limited media resources I had. If I were 18 in this time period I would be able to take photographs and show my own sense of style through newer fashions.
In 2005, I was a 8 year old girl that loved to go to school and play with dolls. But if I were 18 in 2005 I would have been able to start my dependence on technology much earlier since social media sites like MySpace and YouTube were becoming relevant. I would be able to talk to my friends through instant messaging instead of writing letters. Since it was only ten years ago it was not much different from now, we just have even more advanced technologies now so I could have formed my digital identity just like I have now. I have grown up in the digital age so if all of that was taken away and I was all of the sudden back in the past I don’t really know how I would be able to do it. Technology has really made a difference in my identity since I use it everyday for socializing or schoolwork.

18 Through the Years

In today’s generation, turning eighteen is one of the most significant moments in a teenager’s life. Not only one can vote but more often than not, most teens go off to college which is a very well-known as a huge transition from living under their parents’ roof to being on their own in order to get degree in their desired major. Now, this process seem very common in today’s day but has it always been that way?

In the year 1705, digital technology was not even an existing word so how did people try to capture and remember their most cherished memories? Today, the process is very easy since all one has to do is take a phone out and snap a picture. People from that era were more sophisticated despite the fact that the way they did it was very time consuming. Parmigianino, an Italian painter from an earlier era, painted self-portraits on convex mirror to represent himself. (Rettberg 1) Since there was no trace of digital technology by then, most people would draw or paint a self-portrait to represent themselves. If I were 18 in this era, I would most likely be working in a factory kind of firm with machines rather than having animals do the work. I would also play the piano about two years after that since it was created in 1709 by Bartolomeo Cristofori and I will be able to print flyers for piano lessons and post them around town for a little bit of money. (Bellis 1) Because self-representation is very important, I would ask for someone to paint a picture of me to hang on my wall or I would write diary entries. (Rettberg 1)

In 1805, Thomas Jefferson was elected as president for his second term. In this period of time, having slaves were very common among landowner white men. Thomas Jefferson,  who opposed the slavery of Africans, inherited slaves from his father and father-in-law and only free a few of them. (“Thomas Jefferson, A Brief Biography.”)  Gabriel Prosser, an enslaved blacksmith, protested into freeing all slaves in Richmond, Virginia but things did not turn out well for him and the “rebels” and it was believed that they were hanged. (“History of Slavery in America.”) Protesting was one form of expressing one’s feelings on something. It might not have been as common considering the consequences were life-treathening but it was the beginning of people realizing what was wrong and fighting for what they believed in. If I were 18 in this time period, I would most likely be supportive of Prosser’s protest but I will be a little hesitant in participating due to the consequences.

Fast forward to 1905, things change pretty fast over the centuries and making calls from home to home was very rare but doable. 8% of US homes had telephones and those who wish to make calls would have to ask them. A phone call from Denver to New York costs eleven dollars per three minutes. (“Facts From 100 Years Ago.”) When it comes to health care, 90% of the doctors did not have a college degree and thus, simply save a patient from their own resources and knowledge. The life expectancy was 47 years old. (“Facts From 100 Years Ago.”) If I were 18 and living in this era, I might work in a small business earning an average wage of twenty two cents per hour. (“Facts From 100 Years Ago.”) Despite the lack of degree among doctors, I would not complain about the healthcare I would get because at the time, it was probably the best quality one can get. I would be able to call my mother every other weekend to reminisce and make business calls.

By year 2005, people were more aware of the existence of the Internet and its many wonders after it was created in the late 1900s. Among those wonder came MySpace which is a social networking website that allows individuals to share photos, music and meet new people on. Bands interacting with their fans and promoting their music on the website was also very common as they sponsored the website as well. (Roeder 1) An earlier social networking website, Friendster, was created in 2002 and paired up with MySpace shortly after it was launched and immensely helped its growth very quickly and for Friendster to slowly die down. (Ellison 1) If I were 18 in this time period, I would most likely have a MySpace and share my photos and music on there. I would try to interact with my favorite from then which were Coldplay and Destiny’s Child.

Works Cited

Bellis, Mary. “Timeline and Inventions of the 18th Century.” 18th Century Timeline 1700 – 1799., n.d. Web. 31 Aug. 2015.

Ellison, Nicole B. “Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship.” Wiley Online Library. N.p., Oct. 2007. Web. 30 Aug. 2015.

“Facts From 100 Years Ago.” Bill and Rae’s. raesmith, n.d. Web. 31 Aug. 2015.

“History of Slavery in America.” Infoplease. Infoplease, n.d. Web. 31 Aug. 2015.

Rettberg, Jill Walker. “Seeing Ourselves Through Technology.” EBook Product : Palgrave Connect. N.p., Oct. 2014. Web. 31 Aug. 2015.

Roeder, Linda. “What Is MySpace?” About Tech., n.d. Web. 31 Aug. 2015.

“Thomas Jefferson, A Brief Biography.” Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Aug. 2015.

Identity Throughout the Ages

In this current day and age, establishing who you are can be done throughout a plethora of methods, especially in the digital world. The internet creates a variety of ways to do this, usually through social media. Something that many hipsters do not consider is that people their age existed centuries ago, deprived of the luxuries they own today. Finding who you were and making it known was a whole new situation. However, assuming we are following the path of America, the process became easier as the years went on. The inventive nature of America’s people made that easier. Being an 18-year-old woman did not.

In 1705, the only identity a young woman could have was determined by the men she was affiliated with. To most, she would only be known as the “daughter of so-and-so” or as ” the governor’s wife” if she was ever to be that lucky. Money was the determining factor of identity: if you had it, you’ve got it. If your family had a lot of money, then you most likely knew more people to show it off. Women did not have many options for establishing themselves in the 1705. They were expected to stay inside for the most part and raise their children. Some women took up hobbies such as painting or singing, but the few who did it rarely became widely successful. A woman’s identity was mainly set by how prim and proper she was.

In 1805, conditions were about the same for women. Individualizing was still difficult for the female gender. The camera had not yet been invented (the camera was invented in 1840 by Alexander Wolcott), which is the defining tool that created the self-image (Gerber, 2015). To keep track of their self-identity, people have been tracking their lives in journals and diaries since the earliest ages (Rettburg, 2014). This practice remains common, even today.

By 1905, women  were fighting to gain more rights and aspired to partake in the same activities as men. Society could only refuse their demands for so long before their persistence prevailed. Women were no longer appeased with staying in the house and wanted to experience the world and all it has to offer, despite their gender obstacles. They wanted to learn at colleges and play sports. They could start pursuing their passions (to an extent). Clothing choice has also been a significant factor of showing people your personality. In 1905, owning multiple articles of clothing was becoming the norm, compared to the few dresses that women owned throughout their lives in the 19th century and previous years.

American society took major steps in the 20th century. Technology had evolved at a rapid rate and social networking was becoming more and more widespread. Teenagers are social media’s most significant consumer. MySpace and Facebook were overflowing with profiles. People were allowed to personalize their profiles on many levels (Rettberg, 2014). Their  profiles are a reflection of their personality and make a great identification representation. You could find out anything about anyone if they participated in social media. In 2005, women had complete freedom of how they conducted themselves. Clothing, hair, and accessories displayed their personality and gave others an inference of what they might be like. Musical bands were widespread and people generally displayed their favorites for others to see, like posters in bedrooms and owning other band merchandise.

In recent years, technological expansion has made it much easier to express who we are individually. There are even more social media websites that allow us to advertise our success, personality, and everyday lives to those who will listen. Currently, creating your identity is simple in this day and age. Centuries ago, however, it was extremely difficult, if not impossible. With all this in mind, however, we must wonder to whom exactly we are displaying: ourselves or others.




Rettberg, Jill Walker. Seeing Ourselves Through Technology: How We Use Selfies, Blogs and Wearable Devices to See and Shape Ourselves. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014, Chapter 1, “Written, Visual, & Quantitative Self-Representations.” (Links to an external site.)

Gerber, Charlotte. “First Camera Invented.” LoveToKnow. N.p., 2015. Web. 31 Aug. 2015.

The History of Identity Building

As history has progressed, we have been offered a wider and wider range of tools and options for building and shaping our own identities. As people have become more educated, technology has expanded, and more resources have become available, we have found more ways to express ourselves and construct our identities. Each century, new options have become available and people have represented themselves in new ways:


In the early 1700s, the majority of the population was illiterate and resources, such as paper and writing utensils, were more difficult to come by (Rettingberg 4). Much of the self-expression through writing during this century was done by higher-class individuals who had learned to read and write (Rettberg 4). As an 18-year-old living in 1705, the construction of my identity would most likely be done through direct social actions and occasionaly drawing self portraits if the resources were available to me.


If I were an 18-year-old living in 1805, I would have built and expressed my identity through a personal diary, an autobiography, and/or self portraits as all of these options had become popular by the 1800s (Rettberg 5). With expanding opportunities for self-expression came increased self-examination and shaping of the identity (Rettberg 5). Therefore, I would also have a deeper understanding of myself and would be more likely to improve myself and/or manipulate the way others perceived me.


By 1905, I would have an even broader range of options for expressing myself and shaping my identity. By this century, literacy rates had grown significantly and resources for writing had become more available to the common person (Rettberg 4). Technology had also expanded tremendously, producing the option to use a camera for self-portraits in addition to sketches and drawings. Therefore, as an 18-year-old in 1905, I would be able to express myself through a diary or autobiography, photographs, and drawn self-portraits.


By 2005, dramatic changes in the world of self-expression and identity building had occurred. The first social network sites had been invented allowing for identity and reputation to be made public (Danah 10). As an 18-year-old in 2005, I could choose from sites such as Friendster, Facebook, Flicker, Youtube, and more. The introduction of digital cameras also allowed for more control over the identity (Rettberg 12). Living during this time, I would have the following options for self-expression: diary or autobiography (written or electronic), self portraits (drawn or taken with a camera), profiles of various social network sites, and more.

Works Cited

Danah M. Boyd and Nicole B. Ellison, “Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship,” 2007, (Links to an external site.)

Rettberg, Jill Walker. Seeing Ourselves Through Technology: How We Use Selfies, Blogs and Wearable Devices to See and Shape Ourselves. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014, Chapter 1, “Written, Visual, & Quantitative Self-Representations.” (Links to an external site.)