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Online and Off Line Identities Essay

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All media platforms have their own specific set of technical factors which dictate the way users interact with them, contributing to an established set of social norms (Coleman, 2011, 19); this is comparative to what Erving Goffman describes as the observable performance of identity being a ‘front’, which only exists in a single setting and social context (1959, 22). Outside of these contexts, I argue that in my representations of self there are core traits that remain fixed in each version. Beyond these few principal identifiers, the expression of my identities – both online and offline – is continually in a state of flux. The primary difference between the construction of my offline and online selves is that I have a conscious awareness that my identity is both constructed and constantly shifting when I am online which I tailor to my audience.

Tumblr is a social microblogging website which attracts thousands of users due to its multimedia support, and succinct, real-time nature following (Hillman, Procyk & Neustaedter, 2014, 286). The user-friendly interface is centred upon a feed called the dashboard which displays posts by all blogs a user is. I have constructed my identity on Tumblr for the last four years in the form of a fanblog, creating and performing a self that is shaped by the expectations of the fandom subculture. Using this representation of self as a case study, in conjunction with an examination of the theories of Beth Coleman, Sherry Turkle and Tom Boellstorff, I contend that in the current digital age, dominated by social networking sites, we are living in a culture of online interaction which drives the creation of our identities. Drawing on Coleman’s C3 of networked media (2011, 23), I argue these online env...


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...Computing (CSCW). doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/2556420.2557634

Hills, M. (2004). Fan Cultures. London: Routledge.

Jenkins, H. (2006). Fans, Bloggers, and Gamers: Exploring Participatory Culture. New York: NYU Press.

Jenkins, H. (2012). Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture. New York:
Routledge.

Robards, B. (2010). Negotiating identity and integrity on social network sites for educators. In
International Journal for Educational Integrity Vol. 6 No. 2, December, 2010. pp. [19–20]

Saussure, F. (1959). Course in General Linguistics. New York: the Philosophical Library.
Turkle, S. (1995). Introduction: Identity in the Age of the Internet. In Life on the Screen: Identity
in the Age of the Internet. New York: Touchstone. [pp. 9-26]

Figures cited from:
Tumblr. (2011-14). hannibalmorelikecannibal.



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