The monolithic effort needed to ensure your online identity remains current, interesting and attractive can be deemed too difficult for the everyday person. However, this insecurity displays a fear of the unknown that should have been eradicated in this new century. It is respected that insecurity and fear is natural for youths that are gaining understanding for the future as Gabriel notes, “They are caught between reason and unreason, childhood and adulthood, belonging to neither side yet maintaining the characteristics of both” (Gabriel, 2014). However, as Gabriel argues, we should put more faith in our youthful individuals that has already been pumped into our elderly. The experiences of online identity and our contribution to social media help define who we are and “by creating profiles, writing blogs, sharing naked photos and engaging in self-harassment, young people are performatively constituting the meaning of youth as transgressive, as at risk, as lacking foresight, as in need of protection, and as creative, capable, reflexive and self-aware” (Gabriel, 2014).
To substantiate this need for freedom for all young persons, I would like to draw your attention to my own online persona. I am arguably active on such social media mediums as: Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest and Instagram. Per the images below, taken directly from my personal Twitter account, you will understand why I use the word ‘arguably’ to describe how active I am. I do not attack social media like celebrities such as Kim Kardashian, however I view my efforts to follow, discuss current views and provide my own views on social media to be alive and kicking.
Marshall observes these efforts to produce one’s identity and lists these performances by the individual into 3 separate groups: public, public private and transgressive intimate self (Marshall, 2010). To further this, I review my own efforts through my online identity to develop 3 separate images – public, public private and transgressive intimate. To define and develop each of these images, Marshall reminds us that “The public self, whether through the activities of known personalities or by other social media users, is a recognition that these sites and the exchanges that develop on them are extensions in the production of the self and are vital to the maintenance of one’s identity” (Marshall, 2010). As a review then of my efforts thus far to create an online identity, I believe that these efforts have made a positive impact on the development of myself. My online identity is consistent throughout my different accounts over different sites. I follow a variety of individuals and organisations and participate in discussions relating to a number of different issues which develops my intellect and the display of my online appearance.
My most enjoyable – personally and I like to think publicly – online persona is via Tumblr. This social media site is “Tumblr lets you effortlessly share anything. Post text, photos, quotes, links, music, and videos from your browser, phone, desktop, email or wherever you happen to be” (Tumblr, n.d). This freedom is a welcome experience personally and I draw your attention to the below images confirming my efforts on this site. I make a numerous amounts of posts, original and from other users, and also dedicate time in developing and maintaining the my personal blog. Through this creation of my own image, via my personal blog, I feel confirms and substantiates Marshall’s argument that “social networking can reveal the private self, but in its design it has the potential of complete revelation to a wider public world” (Marshall, 2010).
Tumblr however if not one of the most popular and well renowned social sites available. The battle for social media lies between Facebook and Twitter, which hold more accounts than some countries. As portrayed in the infographic below, you will comprehend the size and influence of these two monolithic sites. Both Facebook and Twitter hold the highest collection of individual accounts, one billion minimum. This figure, compared with other sites such as Tumblr, who holds 420 million accounts, or Instagram who holds 300 million accounts, displays how important the online identity can be. The online account on Facebook or Twitter can be located and reviewed far more conveniently than that of Tumblr or Instagram, typically due to the requirement of your full name. Thus, the need to ensure that your public profile invites new followers in and maintain the persona you desire is extremely important. What you post online can be used by journalists and the public to argue a point and it can be so important to ensure your argument is correctly represented.
To ensure that my personal opinion and public persona is understood and not manipulated I now need to explore possible future endeavours which can assist in this effort. “A central issue for using the internet to present self-identity is the replacement of physical presence with symbolic representations” (Barnes, 2013, p. 40) is a difficulty that Susan Barnes argues. As such, when maintaining a persona on Facebook or Twitter or many other sites, we need to ensure we understand that our representation is symbolic and thus is expressed and communicated clearly. Barnes provides the opportunity to lay out this procedure into four steps: constructing a digital self, projecting a digital likeness, digitally associating as a new form of possession, and reorganising linear narrative structures (Barnes, 2013, p. 40).
Over the next four months my objective, and I hope the objective of all those with a desire to maintain their online persona, is to understand and review the identity the we have each created. Once recognised, it is necessary to develop the maturity of our personas to reflect the opinions and emotions of our private lives. Thus, as Marshall described, will transgress into our public lives, formulating the following and understanding that we aim for.
If you would like a further review of my online persona on other websites, I welcome you to see my accounts below:
- About | Tumblr. 2015. About | Tumblr. [ONLINE] Available at:https://www.tumblr.com/about. [Accessed 09 August 2015].
- Barnes, S. B. (2013) Social networks: from text to video. (82 Vols). New York: Peter Lang Publishing.
- Gabriel, F 2014, ‘Sexting, selfies and self-harm: young people, social media and the performance of self-development’, Media International Australia incorporating Culture and Policy, 151, p. 104, Literature Resource Center, EBSCOhost, viewed 9 August 2015.
- Marshall, D. P. (2010) ‘The promotion and presentation of the self: celebrity as marker of presentational media’, Celebrity Studies, 1(1), pp. 35–48. doi: 10.1080/19392390903519057.