Tag Archives: Identity

Performance of Online Identity

Our social media profiles provide a platform to tell a narrative about a subject we have the ultimate authority on: Ourselves.  So how does this tie into branding?  As highlighted earlier, “branding is not the logo, it is not the name, but rather it is a conceptual idea, which gives consumers ‘something to believe in.” (Turner, 2015).  Placing this into a personalised context, it means that our  digital identity is not based solely on our avatars, usernames, and bios; it is formed around what we utilise our platforms for, what message we communicate though our tweets, our Instagram pictures, our status updates on Facebook.  The avatar/username/bios form a quick overview, while the content we publish allows the audience to get a better understanding of who we are. “In essence, our online selves represent our ideals and eliminate many of our other real components.” (Green, 2013)

Are our online identities accurate reflections of who we are as a whole?  Do we successfully communicate the way we understand and approach life through our digital profiles?  Or do we instead present a false construction of ourselves online?  One of the ideas I suggested in my post about branding and transmedia, is that perhaps our online identity varies across different platforms, together creating a larger narrative of the self, but also existing separately, without the need of information from another network.

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If we are displaying different aspects of ourselves through different social networks, it becomes clear that we are curating our online presence for different audiences.  Our representation of self, although only an aspect of our identity is still a vital part of it, not making it any less valid than a social network which includes all possible information in one space; but rather targeted towards a more specific audiences.

“When an individual plays a part he implicitly requests his observers to take seriously the impression that is fostered before them. They are asked to believe that the character they see actually possesses the attributes he appears to possess, that the task he performs will have the consequences that are implicitly claimed for it, and that, in general, matters are what they appear to be.” (Erving Goffman, 1959)

We enter into the social media space, assuming that the content published is an accurate representation of oneself, in some way; however when the narrative presented conflicts with itself, the authenticity has been lost.  Davis (2010) suggests that we “preemptively alter our offline selves in order to authentically convey ourselves online in a particular way”,  which is an interesting concept if we acknowledge that we present different aspects of ourselves through different social networks.  If we are trying to authentically portray ourselves, do we lose authenticity if we omit certain aspects of our lives? I would argue that this is not the case, and Owen’s (2011) takes the idea of authenticity and how showing different aspects of self in different environments is still an authentic representation of ourselves: “James is an honest man and also kind. At the funeral of his wicked uncle, he will not be honest about his thoughts about the deceased, in order to be kind to the feelings of the rest of his family. […] Our identities are not socially universal.”  As such, we perform for different audiences, we aim to create a highly curated feed of information about ourselves, which is specifically directed at an audience, with similar interests, similar personality types, similar ideals.

As some extra food for thought; if we portray a different element of our overall identity on digital platforms, and chose to invest in AI technology after we died, would that mean our varied social presences would generate a number of vastly different versions of ourself as a result of the content we have access to?

How is cyberculture creating permissive spaces for cybersex?

What if the only time in your 18 year marriage that you have felt sexually ‘alive’ was when you were online exploring your kinks with virtual strangers who made you love your body and mind?

This was the case for the woman in the Savage Love Letter column published on March 22 2016, and a trend in some of the literature that I have read so far: unfulfilled physical sex lives suddenly come alive in permissive virtual spaces. Cultural history and mass media writer Chris Barniuk suggests that this kind of revelatory and explorative behaviour is a typical characteristic of our collective first forays into cyberspace (2013). Based on the phone-phreaking culture of the early hackers, Baraniuk shows that online and networked spaces have always been ripe for self-exploration, discovery of niche interests and low barriers to participation.

Other evidence points to the virtual space as a uniquely permissive and explorative environment due to the very nature of the technical environment e.g. software, on which spaces are built. Iris Bull describes the game Minecraft as a medium which ‘grants players an impressive amount of permission to do as they like with the program’ (p. 19, 2014); reflective of this medium are alternate virtual environments like MMORPGS (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games) e.g. Second Life and social networks e.g. FetLife. The flexibility and inherent unpredictability of these online spaces encourages critical engagement with our self and societally imposed sexual restrictions.

These spaces also encourage a departure from gender and sexuality norms through the lack of emphasis on the relationship between gender and power in our physical and societal lives (Bull 2014). This departure is evidenced in the success of Tumblr blogs in providing young women with alternative spaces in which they are free to enjoy and disseminate pornographic material and feel like they are not being judged for their desires, a problem in part born from the failure of platforms like Facebook and Instagram to accept the female body in its sexual and maternal visual form (Gray 2016). The success of similar permissive spaces such as online forums like Reddit (Clark-Flory 2013), and other blogging sites and web spaces (Wheaton 2016) is directly reflected in the cyber-cultural value of community, communication and sharing (Schrock 2014).

This particular cyber-cultural value seems to be the key to the rest of my research in understanding how the virtual experience transforms our conceptualisation of sex, sexuality and sexual interaction.

 

 

Instagram Snobbery – Identity in Social Media

After meeting someone do you ever go online to see what their social media profiles say about the person? When did we become so judgemental about people purely based on the basic things they post on social media. Can we really learn about a person from what they post on instagram? We identify ourselves through what we post and what we are communicating to others about our lives. Below are some cool statistics about teenagers and their use of social media. The most important social network to teenagers appears to be Instagram. The way i look at instagram as it being the king of “fakery” or the most staged form of social media. Facebook is a place for communication, watching videos and posting lots of photos. Snapchat is the almost #nofilter zone where people care less about how much they post and what they’re doing, its like the “no-makeup” zone of social media. Twitter is not overly popular with young people, its mainly used to share useless thoughts, ranting, winging and stalking celebrities. Instagram however is King of snobbery, where people are so planned and purposeful about what they post. It’s almost strategic, whether it be posting at a time of day to get more likes, posting only well edited and aesthetic pictures, staging a fake “caught in the moment” shot, adding useless hashtags to get more likes. If there was a social media that could cause anxiety it would be Instagram. Instagram is also more popular with younger people because their parents don’t have it, parents somewhere in the last 5 years took over Facebook so teens turn to Instagram and Snapchat to hide away from the “oldies.”

The art of Instagram.

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Humans are dependent on affirmation from others, the way we deem ourselves important or valued no longer comes from how many people we hang out with but how many likes and comments we get on our instagram. Below is a really sad truth video about how dependent we have become on sharing our entire life on social media and how it has consumed our lives and became the source of our identity.
Sunshine coasts Essena O’Neil has become a very influential voice behind the fact that social media isn’t actually real life. She has made a blog, edited all of her over thought, planned instagram photos as a almost expose on the world of a instagram celebrity. Heres an example of one of her edited Instagram captions. 
  • “EDIT REAL CAPTION: paid for this photo. If you find yourself looking at “Instagram girls” and wishing your life was there’s… Realise you only see what they want. If they tag a company 99% of the time it’s paid. Nothing is wrong with supporting brands you love (for example I proudly would promote Eco sheets or a vegan meal in exchange for money as its business for a purpose to me). BUT this ^^^ this has no purpose. No purpose in a forced smile, tiny clothes and being paid to look pretty. We are a generation told to consume and consume, with no thought of where it all comes from and where it all goes.”

 

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She is the perfect example of how social media effects how we see ourselves, our individuality, how we express ourselves. At the end of the day we aren’t receiving any real physical likability or love its all come through the double tap of someones thumb.

Online Branding and Power: Who has control over the presence?

So in my last post, I set up my ideas of branding, and started to explore how the concept related to cyberculture.  That post was a great foundation leading into the next leg of research: a series of questions about how these brands interact with users, and what the future could also hold.

Cybercultures allows for a great deal of interaction between brand and consumer, but I question who really has the most control?  The internet is a great space for open communication, but does that tip the balance of control in the opposite direction to where it has typically been.  The lecture on Cyberpunks let me consider this idea, in relation to users who have that power and choose to abuse it – trolls who are interacting with brands for the sole purpose of derailing the brand image.  The ‘trollpunk‘ audience hijacks the presence of the brand with the intention to disrupt the hierarchy of power, (Chen 2012) and this is becoming a social norm.  Chris’s comments in the wk4 lecture: “[I]n the absence of the body, means people can have powerful emotional responses” (Moore 2016), could also lead into this idea, of having heightened emotional responses. The lack of physical, real time presence means there is this time to plan, curate, and execute never-ending arguments – either to troll, or to respond.

This idea of trolling leads me to consider online presences, and automatic responses, either from brand or consumer.  Twitter bots are quick and easy to set up, and could be used for a great number of things, but does this mean that we are heading towards an online social media network of artificial intelligence?  If twitter bots are becoming more accessible to create and utilise, and the responses are becoming more realistic, then does the future of online branding lie in a self evolving AI structure with base ideologies that mirror those of the brand, and evolve depending on the audience that interacts with them.  Microsoft’s recent attempt resulted in something they were not proud of, however it mirrored the idea of “destabilisation of established order by the development of artificial intelligence” (Moore 2016) as users interacted with the AI account in order to change it from an ‘innocent’ bot modelled after a teenage girl, into a nazi sex bot (Horton 2016).  The Barbie brand is also planning on peering into the cyberculture world, incorporating their dolls with AI so that children can have real conversations with the toys, adding a new layer to the identity of both the doll and their brand, creating a new brand presence through each doll as they are interacted with.

*FURTHER OPTIONAL READING ABOUT PERSONAL BRANDING AND IDEAS CAN BE FOUND HERE*

 


Chen, A 2012, Trollpunk is the New Cyberpunk, The World of Today, viewed 30 March 2016, <http://worldoftoday.tumblr.com/post/24514056899/trollpunk-is-the-new-cyberpunk&gt;

Gershgorn, D 2015, Barbie Learns to Chat Using Artificial Intelligence, Australian Popular Science, viewed 30 March 2016, <http://www.popsci.com.au/robots/artificial-intelligence/barbie-learns-to-chat-using-artificial-intelligence,409334&gt;

Horton, H 2016, Microsoft deletes ‘teen girl’ AI after it becomes a Hitler-loving sex robot within 24 hours, The Telegraph, viewed 25 March 2016, <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2016/03/24/microsofts-teen-girl-ai-turns-into-a-hitler-loving-sex-robot-wit/&gt;

Moore, C 2016, Week Four – Experiencing Cyberculture, Cybercultures Blog, viewed 30 March 2016, <https://cyberculturesblog.wordpress.com/week-four-experiencing-cyberculture/&gt;

Shani, O 2015, From Science Fiction to Reality: The Evolution of Artificial Intelligence, Wired, viewed 30 March 2016, <http://www.wired.com/insights/2015/01/the-evolution-of-artificial-intelligence/&gt;