Represent- A phrase showing acknowledgment to one’s background, home, social group, or original place of residence. Also similar to giving a Shout Outto one’s homeboys. (Urban Dictionary)
The definition above is what I think about when I hear the word “represent,” and then the other forms such as self-representation. It was refreshing to learn about knowledge and insight into ourselves this past week. Sadly, when it comes to education and learning, it seems as if the “self” and individuality drowns in foundation and curriculum. What was even better about this week’s topic was learning about self-representation online, which is just as important as self in real life.
When a person hears the word “selfie,” depending on age and opinion many ideas come to mind. Some people from an older generation might think of it as crazy teens and twenty-year-olds being self-involved and vain. Millennials would see it from the other spectrum as something fun and a personal artifact of their life to add to their online social media photo album. A selfie to me goes beyond taking a picture of myself on a day where my hair is in my place, and I’m wearing a new hat. A selfie means I have control (in a way) of what other people will see. Growing up I was always self-conscious and comparing myself to others. Once the selfie and social media came out, it was difficult to see celebrities or models post their pictures. However, I realized that by taking a selfie, I could focus on the features that I found beautiful about myself. (Example my lips or hair). I’m not Tyra Banks, but when I take a selfie, I sure do think I am.
We started off this self-representation on online life foundation with Erving Goffman’s The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, which gave the idea and thoughts about self-representation through a lens of theater. This was the first book to tackle the subject and sociology behind face-to-face human contact on an everyday basis. “When an individual comes in contact with other people, that individual comes in contact with other people, that individual will attempt to control or guide the impression that others might make of them by changing or fixing their setting” (Goffman). I thought this was so interesting because I did this all the time but didn’t realize there was a particular science behind it. When I go to the doctor’s office, waiting room, or any place like that, I purposely read a book and not use my phone, so the people around me won’t view me with the stereotypes that people carry about a black person, a woman, or a young person. The ironic part about this is that online, I am “myself” and by that I mean I share the funny memes and gifs, I post on Facebook about things that aren’t really that important, but I found funny to share, etc. I don’t try to be someone else online.
After learning and diving into self-representation online, all of the flaws that I usually see in the mirror and in my selfies sometimes began to fade. A selfie doesn’t even have to be shared online. Most of the time, I will take a selfie, save it, and embrace it. There’s no pressing invisible judgment, it’s just for my eyes only. I think above anything else, having things (photos, videos, etc.) should be for your eyes only sometimes.
To turn to the darker side of self online, our third Studio Visit with Alec Couros really opened my eyes about deepfakes and catfishing online and how, unfortunately, people use self-representation and YOUR representation for bad. Scammers, catfishing, blackmailing, hacking, all of these negative parts to online life causes paranoia and anxiety about how much of myself is really online. Although it’s fun and comforting to share my new hairstyle on Facebook so my aunt who lives in another state could see, when does sharing become dangerous? We even spoke about children photos online and how personal they are. Once again, as sad as it is when does sharing the cute little girl who had braces but is now a growing teenager because unsafe online? A step to preventing these scares online is maybe putting and regulating laws that have consequences for these actions. Also, being more watchful of what we share and who we share it with but then there’s a limit to that as well. The light side to this is that having a recognizable online traceable behavior can prove, in fact, that this is the real you online.
Well, that about wraps it up for this week! Check out some other cool blogs and Twitter activity below by simply clicking the titles! Also, Check out the Selfie-Unselfie Project website and my blog about it blow! Enjoy!