Finding meaning in the masses: issues of taste, identity and sociability in digitality
Avdeeff, Melissa Kay
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This thesis focuses on the development of sociability within digitality, through an examination of three primary relationships: people and music, people and the Web 2.0 and people and each other. Mobile digital devices, such as the iPod, represent the convergence of musical taste and the internet. Both are inherently social, and, while critics have accused mobile digital devices as being socially isolating, the youth in this study have demonstrated an environment in which this technology is used as a means of communication. For these digital youth, such technologies are seen as a gateway to communication and the sharing of experiences. Having grown up fully immersed in digitality, these youth are negotiating new relationships with technology and each other, through the perceived invisibility of the technology. An important aspect of this research is the formation of identity and taste in digitality. Music is an integral facet of identity, a means to relate to others and form judgments on those we meet – but how is this affected by digitality? The internet encourages a loss of genre distinction, and a culture of eclecticism, whereby people can listen to a multitude of genres, often without knowing what exactly they are listening to, and without aligning their identities with specific genres or subgenres. Based on empirical data, it is demonstrated that this fragmentation of taste matches an intensified fragmentation of identity through social networking sites.