“What kind of image, if any, do you try to portray online? Do you create separate personas for different platforms? How representative would you say your online profiles are of you as a whole?”
I would have to say my online image is somewhat a reflection of myself. I consider myself a quiet, to myself kind of guy and that is similar to my online persona. My social media accounts are never automated to post across platforms; each of my post are custom to the design of the platform I am using. I do tend to keep my social media communities separated if possible. I don’t think I am doing consciously because I have a similar core group of friends/ followers across each of my social media networks, but I treat them differently depending on the platform. I am not too involved in anonymous communities such as Reddit, but I am starting to see more of the benefits of these type of communities. In Bernie Hogan’s blog post, “Real Name Sites Are Necessarily Inadequate for Free Speech,” he discusses how “real name sites” such as Facebook and Google+ take away from the freedom of speech that the internet should be used for. He describes anonymity vs. real name sites in a reporter’s metaphor: “Online is on record. Offline is off-record.” He explains this to mean everything online is documented somewhere, whether that be a file or a screenshot. Your online activity leaves a footprint. This is an alarming fact, but should be acknowledged for what it is worth. Many online users do not grasp the ramification of their online activities; headlines of what a famous actor tweeted or a celebrity’s scandalous instagram pictures fill our news daily. This type of scrutiny from online activity has been the starting point for many news segments and many news segment have daily topics chosen from social media outburst. Although many of the victims of this type of scrutiny should know better, many of the instances would have been perceived in a better light if an explanation would have been presented. But that’s is the problem….Online activity is very easily documented, but does not include context of the situation. The article “YouTube and You: Experiences of Self-Awareness in the Context Collapse of the Recording Webcam” describes context collapse:
The problem is not lack of context. It is context collapse: an infinite number of contexts collapsing upon one another into that single moment of recording. The images, actions, and words captured by the lens at any moment can be transported to anywhere on the planet and preserved (the performer must assume) for all time. The little glass lens becomes the gateway to a blackhole sucking all of time and space – virtually all possible contexts – in upon itself.
This is a different perspective in which to think about how your online activity could be perceived. It is much like only hearing half of the conversation and piecing together the rest from the abundant (or lack of) context clues that are left up to you to translate, but only without direction or order. This is not the case in face-to-face interactions. When offline, people don’t have to worry about their identities or real names because their behaviors are tied to the context of the situation. In face-to-face communication, we carefully (some of us more than others) gauge the situation and evaluate the context clues before we decide how to react, what to say, and how I want to represent myself in my given circumstances. Just as Erving Goffman described self-presentation, we are continuously (normally unconsciously) taking in details of our physical surroundings, the people present, and the overall nature of current situation. We are so adept to this method of soaking up our surrounding that much of the time it is done without a thought and/or while doing something else like participating in other conversations. This unconscious method is missing during online interactions.