Identity and social media

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Recently, I tuned into a 1A segment on NPR about identity and social media. This particular program was about President Trump and his use of Twitter as a communication tool. Spoiler alert: While I reference the president and his tweets, this is NOT a political post. It is a post on how identity gets communicated and therefore, perceived in our socialsphere.

Before we jump into the program, consider your own social media use. Whether you are a Facebook fanatic, Tweetheart or Instagram shutterbug, how do you communicate about yourself? Your profession? How do you interact and engage with others?

Social media persona

The guests on the show consisted of a digital strategist, a higher education professor and a member of the media. The panel discussed the tonality differences between the @realDonaldTrump handle and the @POTUS handle. The former covering a spectrum of topics with many tones; the latter covering White House updates with an informational tone.

The panelists also mentioned the differences in the types of tweets sent from @realDonaldTrump. The inflection varied, pending the type of phone used. This level of analysis and the noticeable distinctions of voice fascinated me. By the end of the program, the consensus was President Trump tweets from @POTUS on an Android. A staff member tweets from @POTUS on an iPhone.

The analysis caused me to think about identity construction and communication of ‘self’ on social media. In other words, what we say – and how we say it – influences how others perceive and receive us. When our voice varies, it can cause fans and followers to question our persona on social media.

Best practices

1A program host Joshua Johnson, also asked the panel for their thoughts on the ‘best’ way to communicate on social media. Not surprising, the responses varied. One panel member said be authentic. Another believed professional yet personal was ideal. The third panel member balked at both responses and replied, “Are you kidding me!?!?” She claimed we only put forward what we want others to know. We filter what we share and as a result, we craft what others think of us.

Again, the analysis caused me to think about identity and our communication of ‘self’ on social media. If a change in tonality can raise questions, what about when we filter and self-select our messages, posts and photos?

So now your truth. How would you describe your identity on social media? What voice do you use when you communicate? I welcome all via the comments section on the blog.

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EdM · at

Hate to say it but I dislike social media and have only one LinkedIn account. Pretty much an viewer NOT a “poster”!

Theresa Hunter · at

I must be honest it has been hard for me to keep up with all of the ever growing and changing social media sites. As a busy mom I wish I had more time to invest in some sites. The social media that I do use I am very careful about what I post. The truth is, is that once it is out there, it is out there and your reputation and who you are are easily determined by what you post or show the world (even though there is so much more to a person than what they post online). One thing I do love about the social media world is the connectivity is provides people today. I love being able to stay in touch with others through this forum. It’s VERY HARD to believe we once lived without it…and equally as hard to believe that there is now a generation that knows no life without it…

Gabriela · at

Interesting post, Deb! I agree with you in that whenever I see someone ONLY post picture-perfect moments, it makes me wonder how genuine they are in real life. This is why I’d like to think that my voice is authentic, yet flexible. In other words, I like to keep it real 🙂

However, my tone changes depending on the topic. If it’s about parenting, for example, I share the good and the bad. If it’s about a work-related article, for example, I typically just use a neutral, more professional tone. If it’s about politics, it varies…haha.

Joe Sellars · at

Very interesting read! The truth about my online persona may depend on the context of the post. A lot of my FB friends know me as “Michael’s Dad”, whole many others recognize me as the “professional airline passenger and hotel guest” (my role as I write this.). I do agree with the person who said that most of us are going to paint ourselves in the best light possible. I’m generally an optimist, so I don’t care to broadcast my personal problems to the world, unless it’s something very serious (involving an immediate family member) or something that I can make light of (the knee surgery that I had last year!) Thanks for the article and for the chance to comment, CoolDeb! (Be ready for me to address you by that name when we next see each other in person!?)

Pat Seibold · at

I absolutely agree with you Joe. I myself am a positive person and will not share negativity on Facebook. I deal with issues with the personal support from good friends and family. Those who know me understand that positivity is my way of life and has been critical to my personal well being. While I was growing up, I was criticized as being Pollyanna like and seeing the world through rose-colored glasses. I’ve learned that my life is a much better place because I do look at the bright side. I’m no longer. that naive little girl but I certainly try to be as positive as possible. Deb, as far as sharing professional information on FB. I certainly enjoy promoting this wonderful Healthcare System and all the good that Brooks does.

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