The branded self: transition, not elimination.

In this digital era, it is common and essential for young people to establish their online personas. With an online profile, people are able to connect more easily as others can partly understand their characteristics by looking at the content they upload on social media. Living in a digitalised world where people have virtual lives in parallel with their real life, a social media persona rich in content is really useful in broadening our communication network.

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Having realized the importance of online profile, employers are now paying much attention on their candidates’ activities on the Internet to further understand them. Therefore, a lot of people have started to establish strategies to customize their online personas in certain ways to achieve professionalism. For example, Filipino fashion blogger Bryanboy has dedicated his whole online life to express his passion in fashion by establishing his own website along with his accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. As a result, Bryanboy received invitation to cooperate with world-famous fashion designers such as Marc Jacob. My UOW fellow Mitchel Trench has huge interest in global media and travelling, therefore he established his own Facebook page and Youtube channel to upload videos sharing his travelling experiences all around the world and this contributes to his employment in several travel agencies. I myself experience the same case as I am an amateur viner with my own Facebook page where I upload vines that I made. This Facebook profile helped me to gain an internship opportunity in a viral marketing agency when I returned to Vietnam, my home country, the previous summer break.

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The above examples have partly proven the importance and advantage of having our online profiled tailored in a professional and strategic way. However, a lot of people are engaging in this process too excessively. By using several examples, Gershon (2014) indicated that young people when deciding to professionalize their online personas tend to give up their existing habits, change the way they interact with friends (or even narrow down their friends list), hide the information or delete contents that they consider no longer appropriate. This is what Gershon (2014) consider a ‘paradoxical and recursive process’ of young people to ‘inhabit their corporate personhood’. Only by doing this do they feel that the transition process happens thoroughly.

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However, I argue against this as I do not think that process can be called a ‘transition’. By hiding information or deleting contents uploaded, a person is also deleting what is inherent to his/her characteristic. Therefore, I might call this an ‘elimination’. Defined by Cambridge Dictionary, a transition is ‘the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another’. However, in this case, we could not see evidence of the former state prior to the transition as people have hidden or deleted contents from their profile. Without such evidence, other people cannot see the contrast between their profiles at two different stages to properly consider that a ‘transition’. Argued by Berger 2011, “a person’s present self talks about the past self to the future self”. Moreover, the contents uploaded on Facebook present the “aspects of identity work which are tied to imperatives for self-promotion in the current conjuncture” (Goodwin et al 2016). Therefore, a person’s proper transition to a branded self must show others that “I realized the importance of changing myself, and I want people to know that”. By observing someone adopting new patterns of using online platforms alongside with keeping the original contents, we can see how that person developed from a naive, innocent stage into a more mature one in his/her life (Berger 2011). It creates a big picture about one’s characteristic for the audience and also for that person as he can fully develop his self-awareness to effectively improve himself in the future.

Everything you do reflect yourself, you might stage it, but you cannot stage what you really are, and that is your truly ‘brand’.

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“You are just doing it for attention, and you will be back”.

Reference:

Berger, A 2011, ‘The Branded Self: On the Semiotics of Identity’, The American Sociologist, vol. 42, no. 2/3, pp. 232-237.

Gershon, I 2014, ‘Selling Your Self in the United States’, Political and Legal Anthropology Review, pp. 281-295.

Goodwin et al 2016, ‘Precarious Popularity: Facebook Drinking Photos, the Attention Economy, and the Regime of the Branded Self’, Social Media + Society, Vol 2, Iss 1.

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