“Are we the same person in different milieus, both online and offline?” This question was on Chapter 5 of the book and was one of the interesting questions that resounded to me and make me think about my own content and profile in different social media accounts. Later, the author provides a concept of networked self in which individuals reconfigure themselves for different situations and audiences. Chapter 5 was my favorite because it makes me reflect about having split personalities on social media and also about our networked relationships.
I just believe that as more social media sites emerge and as we interact with more and diverse people our virtual personalities might split. Moreover, this might have an impact in our offline personality and by this I mean the one we expose when we are not using any social media sites or Internet. I am curious to see what an eventual research about this topic might reveal. Personally, I have been feeling confused and even kind of annoyed with the fact that I feel I cannot be me on social media anymore. I like to share some views about certain issues or events of my life. Sometimes I feel those ideas might not have a good reception or that they can be a reason for creating useless arguments online so I prefer to not discuss about it online. Also, people might become very judgmental or get the wrong impression about me just because of this. How do you feel about this issue? I am wondering if anyone feels the same sometimes.
I was trying to find any academic research but I did not find any. However, I found some articles that show examples and reasons about why people have started opening and keeping different accounts in social media sites. One example is Sasha, who works as publicist for Burson-Marsteller, an agency located in New York. She is currently keeping 18 accounts (!) composed of 2 blogs, 7 Twitter accounts, 4 Facebook profiles, My Space, Tumblr and others. I am already wondering how she can keep track of all of that!! It's crazy!. The reason for this, as she said, is that she can be more appealing to different audiences and control who are her followers much better. Apparently, an app named “Hmmm” has been created to fix this problem or split personalities on social media. The app serves to manage and administrate “your different yous” and create avatars for different people you know.
On the other hand, she considers that the downside of having too many accounts is that the number of her real friends might be decreasing. “I’m building huge networks online. But as that number increases, the network of friends that I can call in the middle of the night is getting smaller”, Sasha said. What she mentions also take me to the first part of Chapter 5 where it is revealed that the number of people who Americans consider “confidants” has declined by 28% in a period of 21 years from 2.9 to 2.1 number of confidants. When I think about it, it is surprising that my real confidants, primarily my mom and my dad in second place, are not even on Internet or subscribed to any social media site. Moreover, no matter how many “friends” I might have on Facebook or Twitter I could say I don’t consider them my confidants and it is kind of sad that for most of them I don't even know them well in real life.
Therefore, I also think that the use of the term “networked individualism” might be paradoxical or contradicting. I have this feeling that the term individualism mean that a person is indivisible something that contradicts the notion that we might have split personalities on social media. My understanding of the term “networked individualism” is that it is a same individual communicating and connecting with different networks. The person is central in the network individualism. But what happen when this person is not indivisible but multiple? How do we call this? The book says “…they have become increasingly networked as individuals, rather than embedded in groups”. I think this is an interesting term and definition to think about and I am looking forward to know your thoughts about this on class next Tuesday.
P.S: I hope you like this funny e-cards that illustrate with humor some of my thoughts about this topic :). Just to give a touch of humor.
Casserly, M. (2011, January 26). Multiple Personalities And Social Media: The Many Faces of Me. Forbes. Retrieved March 23, 2013, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/meghancasserly/2011/01/26/multiple-personalities-and-social-media-the-many-faces-of-me/
Constine, J. (2012, May 22). Hmmm Is A Split-Personality Social Network For Sharing Different Yous To Different Facebook Friends. TechCrunch. Retrieved March 23, 2013, from http://techcrunch.com/2012/05/22/hmmm-app/