As a freshman attending the University of Mary Washington, all incoming students are required to take an FSEM class (first-year seminar class). Within these various courses available, the students and professors discuss among a fairly small class about whatever the topic of the class is based on. For myself, my FSEM is titled “Beyond the Selfie.” In this class, we create our own domain, subdomain – the one I am currently blogging on – and also talk about our digital identities on and offline. We each were given the opportunity to choose our subdomain topics, mine involving relationships and happiness through the internet.
On Monday, October 29th, my class had a discussion regarding a reading our professor assigned us; the excerpt was titled “Cybertypes: Race, Ethnicity, and Identity on the Internet.” The author, Lisa Nakamura, is an Asian woman who is a leading scholar in the examination of race, gender, and culture within digital media. Her piece focused mainly on 3 subject areas: identity tourism, avatars, and racial passing.
Defined in the passage, identity tourism relates to learned stereotypes by searching online for information. Written in the text, Nakamura describes identity tourism as people performing their version of their ideal self that allows conformity to familiar stereotypes. This often does not start questions or raise difficult issues but rather widens the gap between the user and informer in cyberspace. With these learned stereotypes, people will be quick to make judgments and assumptions based on their gender, race, or culture within online dating sites and social media apps.
An avatar is a graphic rendition of one’s self; Nakamura defines a graphic avatar as theatrical prostheses within cyberspace. Relating to relationships and happiness, online dating profiles require avatars, or profile pictures, to be viewed by other contenders with the same relationship status. Avatars are also prevalent within social media apps such as Bitmoji on Snapchat.
Identity with the ability to be pulled into question is stated in the reading as racial passing. Racial passing is condoned because it does not threaten the integrity of a national sense of self or identity. An example of this related to the section on any profile of some sort that states “about me.” This section in every profile/ dating agency websites enables a self-description; people that view the profile are able and encouraged to question the information shared on this section.
Social media and online dating agencies play a big role in finding love; Lisa Nakamura’s short essay explains cybertypes with 3 main categories which also relate to happiness online; love can be defined through race, ethnicity, and identity on the internet.
Lisa Nakamura’s website – https://lisanakamura.net
Nakamura’s article “Cybertypes: Race, Ethnicity, and Identity on the Internet” – https://canvas.umw.edu/files?verifier=khYx5jFjcTdc4n7VSkrL4SZSMJZDKZbJVdFWKjeA&preview=65583057