Online Identity, how I display myself in the virtual world.

“In 1993, when nobody knew if you were a dog, Internet users felt shielded behind an electronic veil of ano- nymity, able to take on any persona they pleased.” This quote taken from an article off InternetSociety.org (full Article Here) depicts how we as individuals have evolved in the online environment to a point now where it is close to impossible to find anyone (within a first world country even in most cases a third world country)  without any form of social media account or any online involvement at all for that matter.

 

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Infographic made on Venngage.

(link to Infographic here)

The video within my infographic shows the power of digital media, how many people around the world are using social media, the various types of social media and how this all has the possibillity to change not only our generation but the world for the better. Further more, the line graph within the infographic displays how social media has grown, Facebook in particular, from 2006 to 2012 as this period had the greatest increase. I have indicated the starting point as zero for simplicity reasons and to show the dramatic increase as a whole. In 2006 their was 12 million Facebook users opposed to 2012 when there was 1000,000,000 users, which is a 8233.33% increase in 6 years. If this number doesn’t prove the growth of social media to you, nothing will.

According to Gabriel (2014, p.104), people often use social media as a social tool to entertain themselves and to share their lives with one another. I personally use social networking for all of the above and more. Facebook for me is social as I am able to interact with my friends, watch media to be entertained and share my thoughts and opinions in an informal manner. On Facebook I can display my relationship status, where I live, where I study, where I was born and other information which I am able to edit and share with the broader community.

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This essentially shapes who I am and how I would like to be perceived in the online world. As you can see my display picture on Facebook is casual and informal, where as on Linkedin, which is  a social networking platform for employers and employees to connect, I am able to portray myself in a professional manner for future employers to learn about who I am, what my qualifications are and also my past work experience.

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Image taken from personal Linkedin profile.

As you can see I have displayed my full name, have attached a professional photograph of myself and I have essentially set this profile up for future employers to look at and to see me in a more professional and sophisticated manner. This shows that there is a fundamental difference between my Facebook profile and LinkedIn profile. This flexibility within social networking allows me to tailor myself to my desired audience within the online world and to shape these online profiles to the way I see best fit. “The availability of multiple and heterogeneous sits for self-presentation promises seemingly endless opportunities for conveying some “truth” about an “authentic” self for those with access to web technologies”. This quote from the article , Smith, S & Watson J 2014, ‘Virtually Me: A toolbox about online Self-Presentation’, shows that we have the ability to shine a different light on how we are perceived depending on the situation and the chosen social media platform. This power alone and the broader power of the internet as a whole allows us to create these persona’s, avatars and representations of how we see ourselves. With this comes online fraud and corruption and abuse of these networks. How we depict ourselves online can essentially be changed and altered at any stage by either the individual or by others within the online community (Arthur, 2009).

Personally, my chosen social media platform is Facebook, which as mentioned above I use in a casual manner to interact and communicate with friends, share opinions, photos, videos and memories and stay connected at all times with family who for the most part live in a different country. As also mentioned above, my LinkedIn profile is used for professional networking, development and to learn about the growing industry I will be entering after my university studies. I also have been using Twitter for the past few years, however not as extensively as Facebook and LinkedIn. For me, Twitter is used as a way to communicate my opinions about my favourite sports and general politics and follow the rich and famous to learn about their lives.

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Tweets from own person twitter.

“Online spaces are constructed and the activities that people do online are intimately interwoven with the construction of the offline world” (2014, p.70). As such, our offline lives are connected in a way to our online lives that sometimes forces us to get lost in this online world, we now have sites such as LinkedIn which connects us with employers and also allows for head hunting and many other possibilities. For example, we can create events on Facebook for people to join and attend, gaming experiences have changed into a social networking platform and to top it all off we are able to follow/stalk the movements and actions of celebrities on a daily basis.

Social media provides us with many benefits and limitations while providing users with a sense of security and anonymity, an avenue to voice opinions and subjects of matter without receiving the repercussions you would otherwise. It allows us to create a persona that may be seperate to the one we professionally have or even a seperate persona to the one we live each day. Obviously whenever their is good their has to be bad and in the case of online identity and social media it is evident through the abuse of cyber crimes such as online fraud and fake profiles to take advantage of people.

In conclusion, building online profiles needs to be done with care and responsibility. My own experience within social media has shown me the different ways you can position yourself in accordance to what you would like to accomplish and furthermore the ability to create these different online identities based on the person you are in reality. “Reflection on online self-presentation leads us to wonder what is added, what is lost by the ease of assembling multiple versions of a self in disparate media, with different limits and emphases.”(Smith, S & Watson J 2014)

(1064 Words including in text references)

My broader online engagement: 

Although I have not tweeted much, I have enjoyed following the funny tweets that are related to this unit, this hashtag #ALC203 has allowed me to follow each week and see where all my fellow peers are at. I have also tweeted about this assignment once. Since commencement of this unit, I have used Twitter more extensively and often find myself checking up on the unit hashtag. I tweet a lot more in general and am learning and experimenting with twitter more than before.

References: 

  1. Smith, S & Watson J 2014, ‘Virtually Me: A toolbox about online Self-Presentation, in Poletti A and Rak J, Identity Technologies: Constructing the Self Online, The University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, p. 70-95
  2. Brown, A 2012, ‘Social Networking and Social Norms: be nice or I’ll delete you’, in Chalkley, T, Brown, A, Cinque, T, Warren, B, Hobbs, M & Finn, M 2012, ‘Communication, New Media and Everyday Life’, Oxford University Press, South Melbourne, p. 167- 170
  3. Gabriel, F 2014, ‘Sexting, selfies and self-harm: young people, social media and the performance of self-development’, media international Australia, no. 151, p. 104- 12
  4. Social Media Growth 2006 to 2012 | D. Steven White. 2016. Social Media Growth 2006 to 2012 | D. Steven White. [ONLINE] Available at: http://dstevenwhite.com/2013/02/09/social-media-growth-2006-to-2012/.

 

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