After finishing Adam’s blog posts and various bits of reading for the week I couldn’t help but feel a little overwhelmed and flabbergasted about it all. Not so much because of the readings themselves, but more so because it suddenly dawned on me how much the internet has changed since I started to use it. I’m a self-admitted luddite, and although I interacted with the digital sphere as a teenager, for the past nine years or so I have retreated into a happy little back-water hole where I can bemoan things like FaceSpace and Twittering and other nonsensical things that make me sound like I was born in the 1940’s.
Although I enrolled in this unit out of necessity to complete my diploma, I was genuinely excited to do so. And the reason for that was because I recently realised that as a writer in the 21st century I need to be able to canvas myself across various digital platforms, and create what K. Barbour and D. Marshall refer to as a ‘public self’ (2012.) They discuss how this public self uses new media to ‘[encourage] discourse, and [focus] on sharing ideas and networking’, and although they are referring to this in the role of academia, it is relevant also to my budding professional career as a writer in enabling me to share my work online and obtain more work. Given the opportunities now available online for writers it is clear why I was enthusiastic to learn the field, and still am. But gosh, golly gosh, holy mother gosh…
When I was a teenager and spending every hour I could on the internet it was all msn, chat-rooms and trolling. The beauty of those platforms was the big A word, anonymity. Sure you created profiles, but most of the time they were all total, utter lies. With names like skater_girl_69 and pink_fairy_donut_blaster, or whatever it was you wanted, there was absolutely no repercussions for what you said or did online because the persona you created basically didn’t exist in the real world. But now with facebook, twitter, instagram, tumblr, about.me, wordpress, and the list goes on… this anonymity no longer exists. Just as Adam (Multiple Me(s), 2016) said ‘there is no clear-cut online/offline separation.’
Adam has been asking us this week to think about our online persona’s and how we present ourselves through our online profiles. We have to think about these things for two reasons; firstly, because (as I’ve discussed) how we present ourselves online reflects on our real-to-life, flesh-and-bone existences; and, secondly, because these personas aren’t just US transferred into the digital.
What I mean by that second point is that the way you present yourself on digital platforms is similar to how you might present yourself to a stranger. Normally when we meet a stranger there is a bit of ‘bum-sniffing’or sussing-out if you prefer. You present yourself in tidbits of information, like your job, or your interests and hobbies, things you’ve done and experienced. These things aren’t really you, they’re extraneous to you but they give the stranger a bit of an idea about you. Digital platforms are this magnified to an endless arena of strangers. And so it is very important to think about how you present yourself, about what version of ‘you’ you create, if you want to ‘[establish] an effective online presence.’ (A. Brown, Multiple Me(s), 2016.)
I find it interesting that I feel more exposed, more self-conscious, creating these online profiles than I do stepping out my front door and into the general public. I am thinking way more critically about my online presence than I am about my everyday presence. The question beckons, how do I want the world to perceive me?
Barbour, K and Marshall, D 2012, ‘The academic online: constructing persona through the World Wide Web’, First Monday: Peer-reviewed Journal of the Internet, vol. 17, no. 9, 3 September, retrieved 18 July 2013,http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/3969/3292#p3.
Brown, A. 2016, ‘Multiple Me(s): Thinking Through My Online Self’, Textures of A Textual World, available at: https://adamgbrown.wordpress.com/2016/03/11/multiple-mes-thinking-through-my-online-self/, accessed 14 March 2016.