As previously discussed, Erikson described the stage of middle adulthood as the dispute between generativity and being egotistical (Tatala, 2009). This indicates that a middle adult turns stagnant when one is unable to be innovative and is incapable of being productive. In relation, Kroger (2007) stated that people belonging in this period tend to overthink and reexamine their spiritual and communal responsibilities. Similarly, Wink and Dillon (2002) specified that there is an increased possibility of middle aged individuals to experience false ideas of the self as a result of the limitations of being highly spiritual in one’s career and family life. Given these, the researchers were able to acquire a broader knowledge and understanding on how the high frequency of spiritual adjustments that an individual undertakes as one reaches this period can affect the way an individual presents oneself online. Significantly, middle age is the period where individuals undergo the process of personal discovery, whether in the workplace, social circle, marital life, or in other aspects on one’s life. However, Freund and Ritter (2009) also stated that this period may additionally include an expanded dilemma regarding the financial responsibilities that one has as an adult, the deterioration of one’s physical health, weariness and dissatisfaction. Moreover, Gambhir & Chadha (2013), considers middle age to be a period of professionalism as individuals under this period exhibits the need to carry out several responsibilities regardless of their situation. Therefore, this insinuates that individuals are more susceptible to a decreased authenticity of how they represent themselves online because of these changes happening once a person reaches this period. For instance, Waterman (as cited in Sokol, 2009) asserted that the modifications happening in an individual’s life may prompt the person to re-evaluate his or her life, which may lead to the development of having issues with one’s identity.
On another note, Jung (as cited in Wink and Dillon, 2002) stated that individuals who are in their mid-age have a tendency to delve into the spiritual aspect of one’s identity. Atchley (as cited in Wink and Dillon, 2002) argues that ageism or the prejudice on an individual’s age, serves as one the factors that lure individuals into the idea of spirituality. In addition, Moberg (as cited by Manning, 2012) stated that humans naturally have a spiritual facet, in which a middle adult further develops over time. This signifies that once an individual reaches the period of middle adulthood, the level of spirituality the person has is usually high considering that this period also reflects the seventh stage of Erikson’s Psychosocial Stages of Development. Although having said that individuals reaching the stage of middle age are more inclined to explore and enrich their spirituality, the adjustments happening in their respective lives as they age tend to counter their spiritual augmentation process. Middle adults who enhance their self-esteem in various spiritual development activities may result in having more internal conflicts with oneself − for instance, having additional responsibilities, be it family or work related − hence, failing to genuinely express themselves online (Wink and Dillon, 2002).
Also, Berk (as cited in Sokol, 2009), stated that the “midlife crisis” issue elicited by identity problems, could also infer the reason as to why the online self-representation of individuals under the period of middle age lacks authenticity, even though an individual is believed to have a sense of spirituality. Freund and Ritter (2009) argued that “midlife crisis” is the distress that middle adults experience as they grasp the thought of having a limited opportunity to establish new life goals and exhaust their capabilities. As one faces this critical point in their lives, they begin to realize the difficulty of having minimal options, being stuck in spiritual limitations and not being able to improve the decisions and choices they previously made, thus hindering them from reaching their greatest potential, their true self. Although the level of spirituality of a middle adult is high, they fail to genuinely express themselves because of these issues or crises. Having been exposed to the idea of being restrained or limited counters their sense of spirituality, hence, a decrease in the way they represent themselves online. On another note, having too much involvement with activities relating to enhancing one’s spirituality could also elicit a negative outcome. According to Moreira-Almeida, & Koenig (2006), people who are too engrossed in boosting their spirituality can also induce confusion to one’s lifestyle and personality, in addition to the midlife crises that they are already encountering. As this happens, middle aged individuals tend to be perplexed on how they can truly express themselves, thus the decrease in their online self-presentation as they heighten their spirituality.
Significantly, Counts & Stecher (2009) asserted that one’s true self-representation is highly influenced by their spiritual self. Similarly, if an individual exerts less effort in augmenting and developing one’s spirituality in middle adulthood, the person will have more opportunities outside his or her spirituality to realize the authentic representation of the self. Therefore, having less spiritual commitment can elicit an increased authenticity of how a person represents him/herself online.
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