Monday, 5 August 2013

ALC201 Module 1, Topic 2: Reflection on my online identity.

'How should the identity of a person be understood?' is the question Hongladarom (2011, p.535) poses this question, and what with the online and offline personalities of today, this question is becoming more difficult to answer.

So how would you understand my online identity?

I have been told - and I agree to an extent - that my online identity is well developed, and maintained, over several different platforms and social media websites. It is hard to argue when you consider this range; Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Skype, Blogger, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, and the list goes on.

Photographer: S Prchn. 
Some, in part, was due to my recent study abroad program overseas. My family wanted to make particularly sure that I was alive and well, so I regularly uploaded pictures from my travels, updated my personal blog as a diary, and arranged times to Skype call with them (difficult with eight to ten hours' time difference). The constant need to update my Facebook feed with my travel-related, envy-invoking images felt justified at the time.

The way I use Twitter seems to relate to what Hongladarom (2011, p.538) had to say about alternate personas.

"The newly created persona, then, allows the person behind to say things in such a way that would not be possible if the person revealed who she really is to the world." (Hongladarom, 2011, p.538)

Sometimes it can be a good release to be open about our problems on over social media. However, 'oversharing' is not particularly favoured over such mediums - unless, of course, you are a celebrity.

Marshall's discussion of celebrity culture involves celebrities having "educated" people in using consumer culture to 'make' oneself (2010, p.36). When I think of celebrity culture I think of their mistakes splashed across the headlines and the gossip. However, I think of the way they use social media - Twitter, Instagram, and blogs in some cases. They discuss small, slightly interesting parts of their lives and tons of people seem to 'like', 'favourite', 'share', and comment regardless of what the 'tweet' (Twitter) or picture (Instagram) is. Perhaps it is a quick snap with another famous person, or the celebrity's dinner, inspirational quotes, quirky mundane moments or potential future plans.

This could perhaps be compared to how I use social media, if not unconsciously then on a conscious level. I am essentially presenting and promoting myself, and the only difference is having a much smaller audience. I may notice mundane and quirky moments on a very regular basis, but the bottom line is, who cares? And if people do care, then why?

I wish I knew the answer. The fact that I do not is quite unsettling.

Hongladarom, S (2011) 'Personal Identity and the Self in the Online and Offline World', Minds & Machines. , vol. 21, issue 4, pp. 533-548
Marshall, P. David  (2010) 'The promotion and presentation of the self: celebrity as marker of presentational media', Celebrity Studies, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 35-48

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