The ability to connect and pursue alterative identities, or performance, is a skill that is frequently employed in the information age, and for good reason (Jenkins, 2009, pg.4). Performance not only allows individuals to adopt alternative perspectives, and thus enhance social group dynamics, it also facilitates goal pursuit. For example, if an individual has dreamt of securing a spot on Dancing with the Stars all of their life, renting a studio for the evening and practicing routines as if they already have the position may intensify their desire for the role, and inspire them to work more diligently toward their goal. This phenomenon can also be observed in the online world.
From social media outlets to video gaming, role-play has an effect on both relationships and intellectual development. From behind a screen, people can construct their identity, and become whoever they want to be, or, whoever they believe the world wants them to be. On Facebook, individuals can selectively choose what they would like to post, carefully weaving an online personality for themselves, which they believe to be pleasing to the public eye. As is often the case in online profiles, either created for the purpose of dating or to simply encourage socialization, this performance is an act that allows humans to present themselves as a finished product rather than a work in progress.
Performance also has a functional purpose in academic growth. In performing an identity, an individual may establish connections with people who have knowledge about the topic of interest. This self-regulated form of learning can result in a higher rate of information retainment and produce a passion for knowledge and social interaction (Jenkins, 2009, pg.49). As such, performance allows for expansion of social groups. Jenkins (2009), argues that social media users who role play will be better equipped in the work force than those who do not to engage in social interaction (pg 49). This claim is a strong illustration of the importance of performance as a social skill, as direct contact is often viewed as an uncomfortable and even unnecessary form of communication in the information age (Tornero & Varis, 2010, p. 16).
As additionally demonstrated in the attached photo, the criticalness of this skill has held over time, and has only grown in purpose. Before technology, children used performance as a form of play (BlogSpot, 2010). Performing identities was implemented through games, such as cops and robbers, and used as an opportunity for children to set their imaginations free. Similarly, technology makes access to multiple identities at once very effortless and in turn creates an atmosphere that children can learn in and enjoy (Prensky, 2001, pg.2). This boom of technology has increased and enhanced the ability to pursue an alternate identity through a digital world. Mastery of this skill will enhance the ability to co-operate, express feelings and lead to more effective communication, not to mention giving a whole new meaning to walking a mile in someone else’s shoes.
Prensky, M. (2001). Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. On the Horizon. MCB University Press, Vol 9(5).
Jenkins, H. (2009). Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century. Cambridge, London, England: The MIT Press.
Tornero, J., & Varis, T. (2010). Media Literacy and New Humanism (pp. 1-55). Moscow: UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education.
The importance of role plays for children (and us…). (2013, February 3). Retrieved December 3, 2015, from http://expatsincebirth.com/2013/02/03/the-importance-of-role-plays-for-children-and-us/
Old Picture of the Day. (2010, June 8). Retrieved December 7, 2015, from http://old-photos.blogspot.jp/2010/06/baby-stroller.html