When first approaching this assignment I found myself a little worried. I noticed students were choosing topics like 3D printing or studying robots, and I will be quite frank that I am by no means capable of creating a 3D printed digital artifact. However, that’s the joy of cybercultures today. There are thousands of topics one can study within our growing digital age. I find myself to be interested in the social media presence we have found within our current society and the effects it has had on our culture. I decided to focus on the emergence of personal branding and the effects it has had on society. How relevant is personal branding today? How many people are portraying themselves on social media in a false manner? Is personal branding even ethical?
Whether we like to admit or not, we’ve all questioned posting certain photos or wondering what a follower may think. Although I do believe personal branding has always existed in regards to competing with one another, I believe it’s importance has emerged specifically in our current society. To think our parents didn’t have to worry about their image online or to their followers and didn’t have to worry about what businesses could find about them online, it is easy to say our current world has completely changed. Our society is obsessed with portraying ourselves as more successful or more attractive or smarter via social media and I wanted to take a deeper look into the effects this obsession has had on our culture.
When starting my research, the first thing I typed in on google was “personal branding”. Thousands of links to websites designed for creating your own personal brand automatically popped up. Websites like imagegroup.com or “brandingyou” as well as guides to “building the perfect personal brand” and “how to better brand yourself” filled my feed. So I changed my search to “society’s obsession with personal branding” and was able to find heaps of useful information for my research. According to Quartz Media, they believe this obsession has to do with how competitive society is when it comes to seeking a job. This statement I can agree with. We need to make ourselves stand out from one another in order to better our chances at success in the job market. Quartz compares our society to the competition we see between large brands like Amazon or Google. These companies spend thousands of dollars on portraying themselves as successful brands, so of course our culture has adopted this theory and essentially copied it by spending numerous hours a day on creating our blueprint on the world via our social media accounts. The idea that our “dehumanized job market treats workers as products rather than people,” a theory that comes from professor Gershon from Indiana University, really sparked my interest. This is the perfect attempt at defining the people within our culture today. We are products. We are constantly advertising ourselves, our trips, our meals, our relationships and our interests to the world. We are individual businesses, competing with one another via social media. (Gershon)
Entrepreneur.com touches on specific statistics that help show the importance and relevance of personal branding within the job industry. Specific statistics include “eighty-five percent of U.S. recruiters and HR professionals say than an employee’s online reputation influences their hiring decisions at least to some extent” as well as the fact that “of all executive recruiters, 90 percent say they conduct online research of potential candidates.” (Entrepreneur.com) These statistics have helped me to come to the conclusion that not only is our society obsessed with personal branding but they technically have to be. There are hundreds of people out there that probably don’t even enjoy having a Facebook or Instagram, but they feel the need to partake in this social media frenzy in order to be considered part of our society and to allow themselves the chance to build a strong reputation via the internet.
We are obsessed with personal branding because it is important when trying to distinguish ourselves from those around us, essentially our competition. That’s easy to agree with. We do live in a very competitive society that has to conform to this digital age in order to live successfully within it. Another subject to touch on when looking at society’s obsession with social media is how truthful this personal branding is, and whether or not it can be considered ethical. Over the next several weeks I plan to really immerse myself in researching not only the statistics and the reasoning behind personal branding, but also the ethical effects it has caused on society as a whole.