Our Mediated Online Identities

Social media has allowed us to make connections with family, friends, and online communities like never before. Many people find extreme comfort and life-long connections with people they have met online. People are able to make connections with others far away, join chat rooms or forums for support, and reach a greater audience. This is impacting our online identities and offline relationships.

This is impacting our identities and there is a shift from having two identities (online and offline) to one augmented reality. Our public life is being shared through various SMSs to represent the person we want to be. This an referred to as an ambient intimacy. An ambient intimacy argues that even though we are sharing snippets of our lives, all the snippets add up to create a bigger picture. I agree partially with this idea as I enjoy seeing small updates of my family members who are too far to communicate with on a regular basis. But I also have a critical eye when viewing these shared moments.  

The main challenge I see with sharing our online identities is how mediated they are. People (myself included) tend to share only the “perfect” pictures or “highlight” moments. I know I am guilty of untagging myself in a picture where I don’t like the way I look… or taking a photo MANY times before posting it online… or recording a video many times before posting…. AND I am sure you are guilty too.

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So why is this a challenge? Although I see our augmented reality and ambient intimacy as a positive as it is allowing us to connect with others, I often think it is warping our sense of reality. What is real? Body image was a huge topic of discussion when I was growing up and how models were portrayed on magazines and in movies. I feel like now everyone is able to access filters, Photoshop, lightning, etc. to achieve a flawless photo. I can see this being an issue with vulnerable youth who are trying to achieve something that is enhanced.

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5 thoughts on “Our Mediated Online Identities

  1. justinestephanson says:

    Great post Kristina! You have brought forward a lot of great points about people posting pictures/videos that need to be up to their standards before they share them online. I have also been guilty of untagging myself or begging friends not to post a picture that I don’t feel looks good. Why do many feel that we need to hide our “flaws”? Are they even flaws? Why do people feel the need to showcase their “best self” online? How do we begin to change that mind set? I remember when there was the post that went around Facebook that women posted pictures of themselves without makeup and some didn’t style their hair. It was a very big deal for many of these women taking this style of picture. I also remember learning and having a lot of discussions about body image. I believe we need to be promoting and educating people about having a positive body image and self image again! Thanks for sharing Kristina!

    • Kristina Boutilier says:

      Thanks for your comment Justine. I agree, why do we feel like we need to hide our “flaws”? They should be accepted and celebrated, but I think this is something that has been an issue for mannnnnny years. I am not sure how we can change that mindset, but I think teaching to concept of positive body image and being healthy is maybe a starting point. Maybe this is something we should be teaching in conjunction with digital citizenship?

      • justinestephanson says:

        You are welcome Kristina. I think that teaching positive body image and self image does need to be taught along with digital citizenship. Students need to remember that we are people and can make mistakes when typing or recording a vlog.

  2. asingh2 says:

    Great share – and really interesting take on our ‘augmented reality’. I too am guilty of untagging myself, and finding the ‘best’ picture to post. What does this say about my reality- as well as the “looking glass self” that I am understanding because of this. Thanks for the insights and helping me to further develop some thoughts on this!

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