I remember the good old days of 2009, when I was in year 7 and had only just made an account on Facebook (despite being one year below the age requirement – but shh, I won’t tell if you don’t), and I would mindlessly post whatever was on my mind. Looking back on my 12-year-old-self’s amazing status’ of “I’m bored.. lol”, and “Josie is: playing Farmville…lol”, I cannot help but cringe. Needless to say that letting people know exactly what I am doing or thinking at any given time without a filter is completely ridiculous (*cough, Twitter, cough*).
Nowadays, I am more careful about what I let people know and see, because whether or not I delete something that I have posted online, someone somewhere will have already seen it, and because it is the internet, it is never really 100% gone – it is still there forever (I even contemplated whether or not I should include the above comment about me creating Facebook when I was underage, since, you know, I was underage, but I digress).
See, my overall construction of online identity changes from platform to platform; I rarely ever post on Facebook anymore, and if I do it’s usually to let people know about something of UTMOST importance to me (eg, my most recent post being a shared video about the line-up of an up and coming music festival – Splendour In The Grass),
and having multiple platforms on which to present myself allows me to focus on a different aspect on myself on each website, while still changing and evolving the ways in which I do so (Brown, 2016).
Interconnecting my various media accounts to one another is important, and very tactically done. On my LinkedIn I wouldn’t post anything other than professional information and links to anything that might improve my chances of getting a job. But on Instagram, I’d link people to my Soundcloud, and on my About Me, there are links to Soundcloud, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube – all the more “social” and creative platforms that I use, as well as LinkedIn. My more creative platforms serve as a sort of ‘hub’ to every other platform, professional or social, but the professional platforms remain strictly professional. But, as pointed out by C. Waite (2013), although “digital communication provides greater avenues for individual expression, the broader social consequences will be less freedom and personal control”, so I have to be very careful in what I post.
My online self is generally just an amplified, more focused version of my offline self – a performance (Marshal, 2010). On my LinkedIn I let any potential employers know the business/ skilled side of me – for example, I am fluent in German (something I would not necessarily post about on Instagram), or that I have a Cert 2 in Warehousing Operations (something I would probably never discuss unless asked). Whereas on Instagram, I let people see my more creative and more social side. My Instagram makes it seem like I’m always either painting,
or out with friends; despite 70% of my life being me sitting at home looking like this:
(above Instagram images/videos embedded from @josieamberon profile)
Whatever I post online is exactly what I want people to see, because whether I like it or not, it’ll still be there after I die – however, I have less control on what OTHER people post about me online, photos or content involving myself could be posted without my knowledge or consent, and then the removal of that content could be more difficult than thought of; and even so, the content is still there once it’s been ‘deleted’. “Self presentation in online environments, unlike in analogy life writing, does not have narrative beginnings and ends distinguishable by birth or death.” (Poletti & Rak, 2013, p. 90). There are even websites around now such as Dead Social and Lives On that continue to blog for you after you die, using information gathered on your blogging patterns from when you were alive – so I guess that if you continuously posted vulgar comments online, you’d continue to be a jerk in the afterlife… probably not the best way to be remembered.
Before university, I never had a Twitter account, and honestly never intended on getting one – it was just another website that had the potential for disaster. But since creating one, I’ve begun to see the appeal. Twitter, and indeed a lot of the internet, is just one big conversation. Since creating my account, I’ve been able to casually and somewhat informally communicate with my university tutors and peers, and have been able to complete assessments on there – such as posting various class activities, live tweeting events or things happening to me, or just simply staying ‘in the loop’.
The best way to be aware of what is happening online, is to stay active online. Before studying digital media at University, I had no idea what a Prezi was or how to make one, yet I was able to make one in about 10 minutes in class alongside fellow students simply by fiddling around, experimenting, and having a go.
The same was with Twitter; I’d had a vague understanding of what it was, but after using it for a few days, it was easy enough to get the hang of, and now I use it almost daily to keep up with the daily news.
If there’s anything that I’d like for you as a reader to take from this post, it’s this: while it’s important to stay active online, remember that peoples personas online are just a performance, and shouldn’t be viewed as an EXACT embodiment of who they are in real life; just be careful about what you post and share online, because once it’s there, it’s there forever.
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My broader online engagement and activity
My online activity and engagement since starting this unit has certainly increased, and I’m very much more aware of any further implications my online activity could have. While I was already active online before starting this unit, it was more social activity, and I’ve since created and begun using more platforms to stay relevant and professionally visible online, such as AboutMe, LinkedIn, and WordPress, which will help me in later life.
Poletti A, Rak J, 2013, Identity Technologies: constructing the self online, The University of Wisconsin Press, Madison.
Marshall P D, 2010, ‘The promotion and presentation of the self: celebrity as marker of presentational media’, Celebrity Studies, vol 1, no 1, pg 35-48
Coldwell W, 2013, Why death is not the end of your social media life, The Guardian, retrieved on 18/04/2016, http://www.theguardian.com/media/shortcuts/2013/feb/18/death-social-media-liveson-deadsocial
Waite C, 2013, The Digital Evolution of an American Identity, Routledge, New York.
Brown A, 2016, ‘Multiple Me(s): Thinking Through Myself Online’, Exploring Digital Zones, WordPress, 11/03/2016, retrieved on 18/04/2016, < https://adamgbrown.wordpress.com/2016/03/11/multiple-mes-thinking-through-my-online-self/