The online world has become a large part of part day to day life for many of us. Whether it be for work, for school or purely for enjoyment, it’s something we turn to each and everyday whether we are aware of it or not. Constructing an online identity has become something almost integral in our society placing a large focus on sites such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. A study in the US shows that 80% of teens who use the internet have one or more of these accounts and 64% of adults do the same (Lenhart et el..2011). Social media gives people full control over how they portray themselves online, often only choosing to show the best parts. Many of us go to a lot of effort in making our social media accounts look “ideal” or “perfect”, take one quick look at my Instagram profile and it’s clear to see that many of my images are planned and well thought out in order to keep a continuous aesthetic. But is this a true representation of who I am and the life I lead?
The answer to that is no, because in reality, I spend most of my days in bed, at work or at the gym, which doesn’t exactly highlight my most interesting or attractive side. Although I want to believe that the people I look up to on Instagram aren’t doing the same as me, I know full well that they are. We are only human after all. It’s important to remember that an online profile across any social media site, is only giving you a small snapshot of a persons life. Even though they may be a regular tweeter, Instagram poster or snapchatter, this doesn’t mean their life is always full of interest, happiness and beauty. I hate to burst your bubble, but a perfect Instagram doesn’t always lead to a perfect life. This also doesn’t mean that you’re being lied to as many people of social media don’t aim to have you believe their life is “perfect”, it’s something us as a viewer simply assume. In a way, as social media users, this is how we are programmed to immediately think.
Social media enables us to express our creativity worldwide and for free!! When you think about it, that's pretty darn cool 💭👌🏼 #ALC203
— Basically By Tarni (@tarnipearce) March 23, 2017
Expectation VS Reality
However, there are many people on social media that do in fact show themselves in almost every light and admit to the days when they aren’t feeling photo ready, because that’s life. The likes of Sophie Cachia (The Young Mummy) and Zoe Foster-Blake use their social media accounts to tell it how it is and have gained a lot of respect and following because of it. People of social media ultimately “allow public access to their private lives… exposing everything from the banal to the intensely personal” (D. Marshall, 2010), but this is of course a choice. Some people would argue that it’s not necessary or “who cares about what they did last Sunday” and some of us may agree with this completely. But as humans, we’re sticky beaks and online profiles give us premium access into the lives of the people we love to follow.
— Basically By Tarni (@tarnipearce) April 5, 2017
Different online platforms open up diverse ways of portrayal, based on how that form of media allows them to express themselves. For example, on my YouTube channel, I often film without makeup, I stumble on my words and crack jokes that are embarrassing rather than being funny. I see the video format as being more of a raw and authentic platform in comparison to other social media sites. Whereas via Instagram, I only choose to share the moments when the scenery looked gorgeous, my makeup was on fleek or I ate some well presented food. This is mainly due to wanting an aesthetically pleasing page, but also because I feel the pressure to be and look more “perfect” on Instagram. I don’t think there’s any real reason for this, in fact I can’t even think of something to explain that thought process, but it’s true. But I can’t help but notice that content creators like Alfie Deyes (PointlessBlog) and Joe Sugg (ThatcherJoe) are exactly the same (phew, I’m not the only one!!) because this is what constructing an online profile gives you the power to do and sometimes how it makes you feel.
As a content creator myself, I personally think that it is almost impossible to really convey your "true self".. Anyone else agree? #ALC203
— Basically By Tarni (@tarnipearce) April 4, 2017
The power of construction gives us free reign at how we choose to make ourselves look online. I personally believe this has many positives. But some research has shown that “the formation of identity and understanding of self has now been effected by the presence of social media” (M. Ganda, 2014). This is thought to be influenced by comments and judgement that can be made via these platforms in both a positive and negative way. Let’s face it, if I was receiving comments about how hot I looked or how great my body was, my self esteem would be through the roof. Of course this also works with the opposite effect, in that if people were telling me I was ugly and overweight, I would probably start believing it. The way in which we construct our online profile and open it up to the world can lead people to have their opinions and their judgements about everything, from what you wear, to the way you look and the lifestyle you lead. Although this isn’t necessarily okay, it’s unfortunately what social media has allowed our society to do.
As a content creator myself, I believe constructing an online profile gives you a platform to express yourself in any way that you please. As social media advances and the online world continues to grow, I can only see online profiles becoming increasingly influential in today’s society. Whether you deem this positive or negative, that’s up to you to decide for yourself.
My Broader ALC203 Related Online Activity
Through making an effort to use Twitter during the course of this assignment, I have found that I have been able to engage with other members of the unit with topics that I have raised via Twitter. Whether this was through someone replying to my Tweet or via a Twitter poll, I feel as though I gained a lot from my interactions with others. Being a cloud student, I found this particularly satisfying. As I wasn’t very competent with using Twitter prior to this assignment I most certainly feel more confident using this form of social media due the engagement I have had with the site during this assignment.
Ganda, Madison. “Social Media And Self: In Uences On The Formation Of Identity And Understanding Of Self Through Social Networking Sites”. Pdxscholar.library.pdx.edu. N.p., 2014. Web. 30 Mar. 2017.
Lenhart, A., 2012. “Teens and video. Pew Internet and American Life Project.” http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2012/Teens-and-online-video/Findings.aspx?view=all. Web. 30 Mar 2017
- David Marshall, 2010. “The specular economy,” Society, volume 47, number 6, pp. 498–502.http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12115-010-9368-5 Web. 31 Mar 2017
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