Identity Construction in Postmodern Theory Identity becomes more and more unstable, more and more fragile. Identity tends to be subject to change. Identity can always be reconstructed, that one is free to change and produce oneself as one chooses. Identity is therefore unstable, fluid, fragmentary, disconnected, multiple, open, and subject to transformation. (Baron, 2008; Benwell & Stokoe, 2006; Bauman, 2004; Crystal, 2009; Wilson, et.al, 2002; Piliang, 2005)
Questions: 1.To what extent are identities created, constructed and reconstructed by Indonesian youth in Facebook? 2.How are gender, Indonesian politeness, and choices of topic and codes negotiated to affect their identities?
The Indonesian (Javanese) Context: Gender: Women are expected to be low profile, feminine and good at 3 Ms (Macak, Manak, Masak [doing make up, reproduction, cooking]) Men are expected to be brave, assertive and ready to protect women.
Politeness Be humble / low profile when others compliment you. Do not show off. Do not confront others directly for things you do not agree. (Be considerate to someone’s face) Do not make other people feel embarrassed or hurt because of what you say or do.
Multilingualism Bahasa Indonesia is basically a second language for many Indonesians. Language used in daily communication is more of a hybrid language. Code switching and code mixing, twisting and lengthening of certain sounds to reveal one’s mood are common in informal communication.
Being male & female on-line M= male ; F = female M: Selamat jalan guru besar bangsa, Gus Dur. Kami akan melanjutkan semua cita-cita luhurmu. F: Ngewes2 ya nges… gayamu lo sok berkabung loe … ----------------- (M: Farewell our great guru, Gus Dur. We will continue all your noble dream. F: Huuuuhh … that style of yours, so pompous to feel like you’re upset because of his death...)
F is commenting on her niece’s picture: F: ponakanku rek, wis gedhe koyok ngene, manis pisan … ;-) M: iyo nggak kayak tante ne welek tenan, heheheh -------------- ( F : look at my niece, already so big, and sweet too … ;-) M : yes she isn’t like her aunt who is indeed very ugly, he he he)
F is posting on her status about her voice. F : My voice gets harsh, it’s sexy, like the voice of Maria Carey. M : Disgusting! F : The same disgusting person doesn’t say that to each other!
M : Oi, Jess. Thx a lot :) Merry Christmas. Impress me again w/ your piano performance next year. F : hahaha....do u want to join me to play???! M : neah, am far more talented than you ;P
F is complimenting on a photo of her former teacher. F : Is that Mrs. Monica? She still looks so young. M: That’s right. Just like me
F1 was upset with someone offline and many of her friends knew about it. F1 : Don’t ever disregard my seriousness! F2 : I see you are serious! Twice as much even hahaha F3 : Agree. I believe you, there’s no doubt about it hihi F1 : hik hik friends, I’m indeed serious. Not twice, not 3 times, just serious! No bargaining! M1: Just add some sugar then. Isn’t that simple? F1 : who said I need sugar? I’m already sweet. This is more serious than M2’s case, you know.
F4 : Are you serious you want to have another baby? M2: I didn’t want to raise this issue actually. F5 : Serious to have another baby? I still doubt… but I’ll try to believe … hehehe F1 : concerning that one I’m not serious. don’t believe it … that’s gossip. F6 : get another baby for when you get older, it’s difficult to deliver the baby… hehehe F1 : hahaha … sounds like a personal experience.
DISCUSSION The differences between what is true and what is not true are blurred.
It is difficult to differentiate what is considered serious and what is just a jovial comment and therefore not true.
What is often considered impolite and rude in real life (offline) communication, may be accepted with ease when delivered in Facebook.
Face no longer constitutes a problem when people are throwing comments to each other. The more creative and provocative the response, the more creative feedbacks they get.
Gender differences does not seem to matter in facebook communication. Some stereotypes of women and men are blurred or crossed.
There is a tendency of upgrading one’s self identity while downgrading others, or of claiming one’s worth of praise while being denied by others. One can therefore take multiple identities with ease.
There is fluidity in topic switch, making the decentering of what is being discussed. No focus is required in making responses.
Every facebooker may introduce a new topic as long as the person can create a new interesting topic for others to comment on. A common feedback tends to end the “conversation”.
Summary Identities are created, constructed and reconstructed through the blurring and crossing of Indonesian gender stereotypes, the use of ‘impolite’ language and the manipulation of language use which violates standard Indonesian language, yet very often they are all accepted as entertaining and creative ways of communication.
Some Implication 1. The possibility of someone to have multiple identities may disorient him/her of who he/she is; or to give him/her a chance to escape from his/her undesired self and be a different self which is more desirable.
A Facebook Profile can be more an expression of who one wants to be rather than who one really is. (Baron, 2008, p. 85)
2. The use of online language in Facebook may have revealed the change of the gender and other social life styles of Indonesian younger generations. (laissez-faire culture / the ‘Whatever’ generation)
3. Indonesian language which has often been the second language of many Indonesians could be marred by the use of colloquial language like the one used in the online communication.
4. The hybridization of culture and language may still going on in the years to come making it more and more difficult to define what our national language and culture are.
References Baron, N. S. (2008). Always on: Language in an online and mobile world. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Bauman, Z. (2004). Identity. Cambridge: Polity Press. Benwell, B. & Stokoe, E. (2006). Discourse and identity. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. Crystal, D. (2009). Language and the internet. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Piliang, Y.A. (2004). Postrealita. Yogyakarta: Jalasutra. Wilson, S.M. & Peterson, L.C. (2002). The anthropology of online communities. Annual Review of Anthropology, 31, 449-467.