Show Us Your Face

Twitter Page

*Author screen shot photo from personal Twitter page*

Social media has really made an increased presence over the last 10 years. Do I have any detailed statistical data to back this up? No, but it doesn’t take rocket science to see the ever growing trend that social media has. Award shows now even have hash tag votes that engage the viewers and make them feel apart of the experiences. Many restaurants and even department stores now give discounts if you “Like” their Facebook page or mention them in a tweet. Even down to the very degree program of EMAC, which cleverly intertwines in depth reading, application and analysis of social media behavior. I believe for scenarios such as this, SNSs are a wonderful thing. For instance, the Nutrition Hut, I shop that I frequent for breakfast, gives discounts if you check in on Facebook to their page. I’m not a fan of letting the whole social media stratosphere know where I am and what I’m doing. But in this case, I don’t hesitate. Why? Because there’s something in it for me? I save money and they get more promotion for their business. It’s a clear win win. But when do the use of SNSs become the poster child for something they weren’t intended for?

Too often we see people using social media to post half naked selfies, start twitter arguments or make discriminatory comments. What do these things all have in common? In the safe environment of the SNS world, it’s really ok to say what you feel, without thinking of repercussions, because technically no one us actually “seeing” you do anything. They’re looking at a representation of you through text, picture or video. Could this perhaps be the reason why most people use sites such as Facebook to “articulate previously established relationships than to meet strangers”? In A Networked Self, Zizi Papacharissi shows that people typically use SNSs to be reacquainted with old friends or colleagues, not to meet new people. Papacharissi also brings up the interesting point that married people and people in relationships tend to use social media more than their single counterparts. Based on the idea that you may overlap friend or associate pools with your significant other, this makes sense. It’s a broader sense of networked publics, as danah boyd defines as the space constructed through networked technologies and the imagined collective that emerges as a result of the intersection of people, technology and practice. The more intersections you have, the more chances there are for “imagined communities” that we either include or exclude others from, as Benedict Anderson suggests. We feel more comfortable to say and do what we want on social media, partly because we are already familiar with the audience.

We have become so attached to social media that we feel naked without it. As this Tuesday ends my one week fast from Facebook, I had to constantly remind myself not to respond to messages or wall posts. Even if there were not messages or posts from anyone, I just wanted to be free to browse my home page when I felt bored. Ironically, the fast started on my birthday which made it even harder! How was I supposed to show my gratitude for the people who wished me a happy birthday!? Only 8 people actually called me on my birthday. Could we be damaging the intent of Facebook and other such sites as a communicative cop out to show we’re thinking of someone by virtually messaging, re-tweeting, poking, or writing on their wall? While I believe that we should all use SNSs to our advantage, we should not use them to hide our true beings or a free ticket to be openly disrespectful. Perhaps we will be better off if we remember to keep the three dynamics in mind as mentioned in Chapter 4 (p.49) of A Networked Self: Invisible audiences (all audiences aren’t necessarily present or absent online), Collapsed contexts (difficulty to keep social contexts from lack of spacial, social, and temporal boundaries) and The blurring of public and private (the difficulty to maintain each as distinct).

Here’s an interesting dialogue about the effects of overuse of social media with author and columnist Margie Warrell



  1. I think your point of “SNSs are a wonderful thing” is very accurate and social network sites are an “information superhighway” (Papacharissi, p.105). Before this EMAC program I never really thought about how powerful and useful social networks really are. They can provide everything from helpful discussions, to sharing and learning new information to establishing a professional identity, to even helping someone get a job or hurt their chances for a job. I was a late adopter to Twitter because I thought it was just for people to talk to each other and I was thinking “140 characters? That’s it? What is the point?”
    Now you are talking to someone that has three different twitters, each used for their own purpose and audience. One is for my social circle of friends to chat with and share things we have in common. Another is my public twitter that I use for work and to connect with people in my field. Of course this is also where I follow all of my news stations, so I can be up-to-date and informed on everything happening around the world. My friends used to make fun of me for always reading the news, but now I have seen how much it benefits me in my daily life from my personal life to work to school.
    My third twitter is strictly for our EMAC 6300 class so that I can post as many times as I want and not bother any of my followers on my other accounts. This has really brought us together as a class and I enjoy the discussions we have on Twitter. As Rheingold says “virtual communities are social aggregations that emerge from the Net when enough people carry on public discussions long enough, with sufficient human feeling, to form webs of personal relationships in cyberspace” (Rheingold, 1993, p.5). One thing that sets this class apart from any other class I have taken is that we can communicate with our teachers through social media. In my undergraduate degree if you ever tried to add a teacher or teacher assistant on social media they would not accept you as they did not believe in being friends with students on social media.
    On my first job interview, when I only had my one Twitter account for communicating with friends, the interviewers wanted me to accept them as my follower to see my tweets. They said it was part of the job and they needed to see what I was tweeting in order to move forward with the interview process. This is when I realized that I had to use Twitter in a professional way.
    Now we see how technology has been woven into our daily lives, including in work and in school, and we can see how great social media is because everything is so instant. As it is described in chapter 5, one of the ways social networks create virtual communities are through “the ritualized sharing of information and they grow out of the regularized information exchange” (Papacharissi, p. 108). Social media allows us to do this right then and there from information to discussions and most of the time you do not have to waste hours trying to find what you are looking for.
    Social media is great for companies to use and get their brands out to the public. I personally like “checking in” on Facebook or Twitter and especially four-square because you get free stuff. I see it also as a way to help the business you are checking in at. Your friends have the ability to see where you are and then maybe click it and see that it might be a place they want to visit as well.

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