Digitally Documenting Our Lives: Presentation Blog Supplement

Hey everyone,

On Monday I unfortunately did not have enough time to present. While I hope you all enjoyed my video, I also wish I had more time to adequately explain it, relate it back to our class readings, and give you all an opportunity to discuss my project. But due to time constraints, I am writing one last blog post here so that I can expand upon my project.

For my project what I wanted to do was explore the topic of our online identities. Essentially, we all have an online identity, and these identities are developed through a variety of means. We may construct our identities through our memberships to social networking platforms (Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter), or more specifically, through the ways in which we market ourselves through these mediums. In my video I wanted to focus on the act of digitally documenting our lives and how in doing so, we move away from offline forms of expression and memory keeping, and move towards the prevalence of our online presences. I wanted to examine why we have ‘progressed’ towards online remediations of other forms of expression (paper and pen journals) and memory immortalization (photograph albums, scrapbooks).

I decided to look at these topics in terms of the demographic I know best, young adults, better known as university students. I wanted to focus on three of today’s very popular online platforms, YouTube, WordPress and Tumblr. The two students I interviewed, Anna (WordPress) and Georjo (YouTube and Tumblr), unintentionally ended up representing different ends of the spectrum.

My video can be related back to many of our class topics:

Chapter 32
Screening Moments: Scrolling Lives: Diary Writing on the Web – Sorapure
Anna and Georjo spoke of their use of blogs as diaries. They both embody Sorapure’s point about how we use computer technology to create and perform autobiographical acts. For instance, Georjo uses his Tumblr account to talk about his day, or to express irritations. On the other hand he uses his YouTube account to post music videos to promote his authority as a singer, essentially leaving behind his online legacy, just as an autobiography creates a textual legacy. When Anna discusses online diaries versus offline journals, she notes that she does not expect someone to read her journal (if she wrote one), implying that she expects someone to read her online blog. Once again, traditional autobiographies are written and published with the intent that someone will read them. Anna and Georjo’s discussions also relate back to Sorapure’s notions of different levels of access in online diary writing. Anna does not want people she knows to read her blog while Georjo is receptive towards both friends and strangers. Anna and Georjo represent the changes in the experience of diary writing and how the concepts of privacy are reformatted.

Chapter 30
Taking Risky Opportunities in Youthful Content Creation: Teenagers’ Use of Social Networking Sites for Intimacy, Privacy and Self-Expression – Livingstone

Livingstone presents many of the risks and negative implications that the teenage use of these sites can create. I wanted to challenge these risks. I am not implying that these risks do not exist, but rather that young adults have an online conscience and are much more aware of online restrictions than you might think. For instance, both Anna and Georjo admitted that they do write posts that they never actually publish because they do not want other users to have access to those particular thoughts. Therefore we see that they can discriminate between private and ‘public’ content. In terms of narcissism, we see two different perspectives. While both essentially do want their accounts to be viewed, Anna does not monitor how many viewers she gets, and in fact removes the subscribe option. Georjo, in difference, admits to frequently checking to see if he has gained new followers or subscribers and even said that he “just wants to be famous”. On social networking sites we see that narcissism appears in different levels, forms, and for different reasons.

Chapter 31
Dynamics of Internet Dating – Lawson and Leck

Though neither Anna nor Georjo use these sites for Internet dating purposes, they do indeed use them to supplement their offline relationships. In other words, they both use these mediums to seek elements of relationships that they cannot find offline, or that they prefer to seek online. They both illustrated that sometimes there are things that you cannot say to the people you know because of the fear of judgment and critique – and so they turned to an online community of ‘strangers’. But they also speak of how these strangers, so to speak, can offer them various levels of support. Lawson and Leck’s essay proposed that users turn to Internet dating after a life crisis. In similarity, Anna turned to her WordPress account and her readers after a difficult point in her life, but then changed her blog content as time went on.

Those are the topics I primarily focused on in my video. I mainly wanted to use my project to provide an insight into the significance of our online presences and how they affect our offline presences. Our online identities do not reign over our real world lives, but offer us greater control over how we can seek support, advice, and even success in our differing fields of interest. Though there are indeed implications of these uses, it is important to note that if an online conscience accompanies an online identity, users are responsibly managing these interactions.

Do any of you feel as though the negative connotations of online identities outweigh the positive? Or that choosing to invest in online identities over offline counterparts is socially destructive? As well, if anyone has any questions, feel free to pose them here!

P.S. Sorry for the insanely long post!

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