Twitter Bio Update Screenshot by Michelle Sibanda, April 2017
I could simply start this by trying to define what my identity is but looking at the array of social media platforms I am active on, they do not all share the same content or represent me fully. Even with the short Biography section, a quick summary on who I am, the profiles somewhat fail define who I am. So, does said online performance illustrate my identity?
“As platforms of self expression, social media sites require users to consciously, visibly, and deliberately perform their identity” (Gabriel, 2014: p104).
My online presence thus far on social media has been centred around communication, connecting and interacting with others in the multitude that is media today. The way in which I present myself and am seen by others has come as an after thought per say. Gabriel’s comment on performance of ones identity captures the very essence of online participation to which I’d think applies to the majority of users.
Ones identity can be explicitly displayed throughout various media platforms showing similar or different persona’s on each. Like majority of my generation, the construction of my online persona began with a Windows Messenger @, one I wish to keep hidden today. From this, following media culture and trends, my profile then extended to Facebook, Instagram and snapchat as each came into trend. On these platforms, my presentation of self reflects on my external actions, linking my real life experiences to virtual interactions.
Snapchat Post Screenshot by Michelle Sibanda, April 2017
I don’t always post about the food I’m eating, the clothes I am wearing or people I’m around and the places we visit, but the inclusion of each element is included if that is what I am currently doing. Marshall describes this level of presentation as the transgressive intimate self where ones ‘on-line version of the self is the one motivated by temporary emotion’, an act of being and living in ‘the true nature between online and offline’ (Marshall, 2010: p45).
This same concept is presented widely across Twitter, though placing a greater consideration of what is being published and perceived by others. Twitter endorses the expression and contributions of ones thoughts and opinions within the limitations of 140 characters, establishing space to present yourself whilst refining your performance. Joining twitter, I could not help but associate the platform with self presentation in a critical light, somewhat more than my existing online identity. My online persona and how I am being perceived became more apparent. I began to place a somewhat semi-regulatory approach on the content I published, thinking about what I say and how I say it but still staying true to my overall depiction of my experiences.
Adam Brown states that ‘social networking can offer opportunities for people to explore and experiment with aspects of themselves, which they might be more uncomfortable doing in other venues or situations’ (Brown, 2015: p222). Currently, my online identity is still refined yet progressing through more prevalent involvement, specifically on Twitter exploring my opinions and blogging potential.
The network and community that is #ALC203 has been a major factor in building my online presence and getting more involved this elements beyond my everyday preferences. “One’s identity is a unique conglomeration of elements, a ‘social composite'”, that establishes ones identity in a setting of collective discovery (Thwaites et al, 1994: p214 cited in Brown, 2015: p221). The foundations of being a part of a group with others with similar goals, challenges and interests has been extremely accomodating.
The interactions with other students, lectures and the unit chair have made understanding various elements of online participation more transparent but also engaging. Removing the barrier of just having academic relationships with others prompts more discussion, conversation and general insight that may have been missed. Twitter is a cleverly utilised platform doing exactly this.
We all interact with other people to share information, collaborate on projects, or just to simply catch up. Some of these communities remain strictly online or hold some connection to our real lives prevailing to a point where ‘these relationships move back and forth between the virtual and non-virtual’ (Brown, 2015: p. 220).
Although we all connect through a simple hashtag, we continue to link with other users opinions and insights in the process of building our own, beyond the online communities.
Looking to the future of my online participation and performance, there is more I can and hope to include on the path of building my online self. We’ve established my angst towards blogging and participating in content creation that represents me to a critical audience, but adjusting to this will be the very next step in getting more involved in online culture.
I can say I regularly check and update my existing social media sites, from updating a profile picture, liking an Instagram post or snap chatting a funny moment during lunch with friends, I am as active as ever. These actions are as ever a ‘short-hand for changing, up-to-the-minute performances of self’ (Hills, 2009: p118 sited in Brown, 2015: p 227). I wish to apply the same approach to my more critically representative media, even through small steps.
Social media’s influence is almost just an addition to our everyday lives as it works to ‘produce a similar kind of conceptual excess by collapsing boundaries of public and private, real and virtual’ (Gabriel, 2014: p108). Five weeks ago, Linked In, AboutMe, Twitter and WordPress were alien to me, but today I can say I check my twitter almost as much as Facebook and am slowly beginning to create my online resume. With growing interest, the element of building my virtual identity can only be seen as a journey, but one that is rewarding!
I have taken the very first steps into expanding my online persona. No exaggeration there, I literally have just created each of the platforms and not fully engaged with them but that reflects on my level on creativity when I’m confronted with new tasks.
Like writing an essay, my introduction is the biggest challenge but once the first three sentences are there, creativity strikes. As a procrastinator, creating a step by step Prezi on building an online persona, I’ll attempt to follow my own initiative to be even more interactive in media culture.
Constructing an Online Identity Prezi by Michelle Sibanda, April 2017
(Word Count: 1015 words)
My Broader ALC203-related online activity
Over the course of the last five weeks, as a part of ALC203 I have established a new means to participating in social media and examining the various elements of digital media on an interactive level.
ALC203 has been a learning curb at every turn. I began this unit with a Twitter that was indeed study-related also. Like others, I placed Twitter in a box of complicated things, but today I can say I have a completely new and engaged view point.
From this point on, I wish to establish a blog now the first (compulsory) post in complete and continue to add to my online presence.
Brown, A 2015, ‘Navigating Social Media’ in Communication, Digital Media and Everyday Life, Second Edition, Oxford University Press, South Melbourne.
Gabriel, F 2014, ‘Sexting, Selfies and Self-harm: Young People, Social Media and the Performance of Self-development’, Media International Australia, no. 151, 104-12.
Marshall, PD 2010, ‘The promotion and presentation of the self: celebrity as marker of presentational media’, Celebrity Studies, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 35-48(journal article available via library catalogue).