November 24, 2017 admin

Who am I really thou?? A look at my take on online identity

The other day my little brother posted a picture of my family online and captioned it “even thou we seem really happy in this picture this is hardly the case.” This is the picture he posted, I mean don’t we look totally bliss.

But really it wasn’t his caption that got me thinking it was the comment his friend posted which went something to the effect of ‘Why are you airing your family’s dirty laundry online, let us believe the fantasy.” This led my brother to delete his original caption and when I asked him why he said “apparently it was too much”. As I drove to work the next morning this scenario played in my head over and over and I thought of the different ways in which it was wrong but yet sadly a part of reality mine too.(Rak & Poletti, 2013:14). There have been numerous times I have posted a picture online, or even made a comment and immediately deleted it because of how I felt like it portrayed me. It was either too true, or it exposed a side of me that I wasn’t willing to open up to the online world yet. Then there’s always the big what would people think about me if they knew, Isn’t this the struggle people and their view of us?

Then again this is not only the case in online identity it is also the case in day to day interactions. Goffman (1959:32) talks about this perfectly in his book presentation of self. The theory of “dramaturgy” completely encapsulates how most people behave in both real life and the online sphere. Goffman (1959:44) highlights the concept of a back stage and a front stage. The front stage is how we interact in front of an audience. We portray ourselves in a way that would make them view us in a certain light. This is highlighted by the different ways in which I use my different social media platforms. Let’s take twitter for an instance, I opened my twitter account when I was a lot younger and used to repost a lot of inspirational stuff.

However present day Tanaka on twitter is still trying to get a handle on reality of portraying myself as a knowledgeable educated individual.(Rak &Poletti, 2013:14)

As a result Iam realising the need to spend a few more minutes thinking of a career appropriate tweet before I tweet. This is my front stage if a prospective employer where to browse my twitter feed I would want them to think I’m a progressive thinker and as a result they should definitely hire me, coz I’m an asset. Well this is the end goal anyway, were not even there yet. As you can tell my tweets are a work in progress, a comment on politics here and there but mostly engaging with my peers it could improve.

The stage of my Facebook persona however is a lot different because I have a lot of work colleagues, relatives and the dreaded mum. I view Facebook as a platform that I can be myself but the self that I’m comfortable with my nearest and dearest knowing about.(Goffman,1959:32) So I will post the occasional emotional titbit, a picture on a night out but nothing too dramatic and photos of my adventures but not too many because I don’t want to have to answer the same questions about my weekend fifty thousand times to my workmates, or mum asking if I’m really saving because I seem to be out and about quite a lot these days. I also have my privacy on very high as I want to be able to control who can see what and have the ability to decide what I want to share with who. This is because my audience is so varied and I show different personas with different people so I need to make sure it is kept that way.

My Instagram however is the highlight reel of my online presence and it’s the platform that I am most comfortable with at the moment. I have a lot of fun with this platform because it is not as serious as the other two and the gatekeepers are not as rigid. You could literally be anyone on Instagram and its ok. (Davis, 2012).I feel like when used properly Instagram is a platform that has the power to motivate and encourage people to think outside of their comfort zone. This is the approach I have taken with this platform as I constantly show me having fun and just being out there and among it. I feel like it shows a more balanced view on me. There was a time when I took on the persona of dating coach for men and posted daily videos telling men what and what to not do when dating.

I enjoyed this because I actually got feedback from people and this was an encouragement to go on.

My Instagram persona has however warranted people saying statements to me like “these days you are living life”, or “we can see you’re enjoying life”. While this is the case that I do enjoy the life I live I feel like my online persona does not totally sum up who Iam as a person. (Davis, 2012).I feel like all platforms in an essence don’t. (Davis, 2012).Platforms like real life have strictures surrounding them and the only way to enable success in these platforms is to adhere to the standards set. (Rak & Poletti).Twitter for example no one takes you seriously if you are always talking nonsense, to be recognised as an academic you need to prove yourself. Then Instagram is all about the look you portray and whether or not it’s meeting the criteria of what’s in at the moment. People do not follow you or engage in your content unless they like what you are putting out. There is also a lot of pressure to appear perfect and this has resulted in people focusing more on their virtual identity and not investing in who they are as a person.

But what about the back stage, the person iam when no one is looking? That’s saved for my friends and people who have no choice but to be in my life. This is because these people do not need to be impressed by me. So as a result the masks Goffman talked about in 1959 are still present in today’s society but now on the wide web. My hopes for my online presence is to show all aspects of me. The good and the not so good because this is me and the whole me is a mixture of highs and lows. It might be slightly uncomfortable at the beginning but there is something about being authentic that speaks very loud.



Perspectives on the Risks and Rewards of Online Self-expression.” New Media and

Society 14(4):643R51.

Goffman, E. (1959) The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. Harmondsworth:


Rak, J, & Poletti, A 2013, Identity Technologies: Constructing the Self Online, University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, Wisconsin