When I first started to develop my online identity as a teenager I was using websites that are now either non existent or no longer relevant or popular. At this stage of my online engagement social media and blogging seemed like a kind of unchartered virtual Wild West. Me and my peers would use the internet to share paparazzi pictures of our favourite celebrities, and their outfits, which brands they were wearing and discuss how to find knock off versions so that we could mimic them. Fast forward 10 years and me and many of my peers are picking up many of our social/fashion cues from contemporary celebrities that influence my own calculated self branding. I have to consciously choose how I portray myself online; that I must have some selfies but never post two in a row, social drinking pictures with friends, at least share one shot of my day at the beach etc but when I start to self analyse why I do this it almost starts to feel like i’m some sort of narcissist that’s doing their best to convince everyone that I’m they’re not dexter type sociopath (but surprise I’m in your closet and about to cut you up into tiny pieces, fooled ya!!). As criticism suggests the many online identities “extended the cultural regimes of specific types of image (like the selfie) along with potentially narcissistic concepts of selfhood” (Martin, digital cultures pg 120). But after doing a quick google search it’s reassuring to find out that I’m not a high functioning robot or a narcissistic (cheers webmd) and for the most part the majority of us aren’t narcissists despite the controversial selfie culture my generation is known for.
Perfecting a”performance media”(Marshall pg 38) with digital platforms such as Instagram has certainly been influenced by celebrities in fine tuning my own online identity. But really we’ve always had celebrities influencing our behaviour. Marshall 2010 points to De Backers ideas that “strategy learning gossip” suggests we “learn social cues and preferred behaviour through information gleaned about others”(Marshall 38) . This “Performance of the self”(Marshall pg 39) is something that I heavily engage in and is why I’m likely to post a picture of myself before going out for new years with a full face of make up as opposed to posting a photo of me while i’m sick at home with the flu. Both are undeniably “me” however one is a carefully orchestrated version of my “norm-driven construction of character and performance “(Marshall pg 39).
We use Instagram and Facebook as a “construction of character for a kind of ritual of performance of the self”( Marshall, pg 40). The fact that I have posted only the latter of the two images seen below goes on to suggest that I too am highly” conscious of a potential audience”(Marshall pg 40) and can display an obvious “preening and production of the self”(Marshall pg 40).
When I was a teenager so much attention had been focused on the concern of social media and it’s consequences pertaining to young peoples use of online performance. Laurence Steinbergs 2008 study found that in teens the function of “socio-emotional systems mature faster than the cognitive control systems” meaning that teens are making choices that are made in favour to “emotional and social reward” rather than thinking about “potential risk”(Fleur, pg 105). As a teen I constantly heard horror stories about how someones misguided and inappropriate attempt of self production on social media had ruined their reputations as well as career prospects. I believe this is why I have such a huge fear of ignoring or missing a “potential risk” and is the reason why I and so many others only post 100% risk free content that takes so much time and deliberation that it starts to become so far removed from who and what we actually are.
For myself I believe that celebrity culture has had a massive effect on how I allow myself to be seen by the audience even though most of my audience is just family and friends. My interest in celebrity culture in hollywood such as early 1900’s gossip columnists Hedda Hopper who could ruin careers with the slight mention of an individuals social mist steps. This kind of hollywood gossip culture has persevered and presented itself through the paparazzi frenzy that surrounded princess Diana (of which I have faint memories of even though I was only 5). Fast forward to today with celebrity controversies being far more likely to be captured with the rise of social media. TMZ, a celebrity gossip business, stands for “thirty mile zone” which is the epicentre for studio productions and celebrity sightings and thus where the TMZ would capture the majority of the celebrity footage, however in more recent years gains a large portion of their content from celebrities own online platforms.
Is it a type of Online Social emulation, the art of imitating those we value as desirable in society (typically the rich, beautiful and the famous) motivating us to buy into certain things? Friedman writes”an emulating society presupposes certain fluidity between strata including moral and cultural strata: it presupposes the possibility of rising and falling in the social scale” (freeman, the republic of choice pg 114) and so I tend to only post pics of myself poolside instead of posting anything that could compromise the safety and reputation of my online identity as I have been made to be so aware of the dangers of misrepresenting oneself online.
The president of AAFPRS notes the influence social media platforms has had as “consumers are inundated with celebrity images via social media, the more they want to replicate the enhanced, re-touched images that are passed off as reality,”(AAFPRS report) After reflecting on my own online identity it is clear that I like so many others tend to observe our celebrity overlords who post pictures that have been photoshopped and do our best to emulate our own performance from their content.
My broader online activity since beginning ALC203 has been a quite a positive experience. I had originally found the idea of tweeting to be quite daunting as it wasn’t a platform most of my social circle used. Although it was quite intimidating to be testing out newer online platforms it is crucial that I become more at ease with Platforms such as About me or Linkedn as they are integral to strengthening a more mature and professional online identity. I found connecting with other students with similar interests to be very rewarding and will continue to develop my professional online identity through this type of engagement.
Main blog word count : 1068
Broader Online activity word count:107
Images all images used are owned by me apart from image two of the Canva presentation of which holds a (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) image sourced from ReSurge International.