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.

Interview: how has the Internet affected and changed household’s activities and TV space in particular.

This week’s task for BCM240 allows me to have another interesting conversation with Mr Dario, my landlord – who helped me with my TV interview, about his household’s access to the Internet, how it affects his family’s life and changes TV space in his home.

First of all, he first got the Internet applied in his house for about 10-15 years ago and the main usage was to serve education purpose due to the fact that he was studying at that time and there were actually not too many stuffs online. At the moment, beside educational purpose, his family members, mostly his children, or young adults to be exact, are using it for social networking, gaming, streaming – ‘anything’, said Mr Dario. This change does affect the interaction in the house as people are putting more and more attention on online activities rather than direct communication with others, although a rule of ‘no electronic devices at dinner time’ has been issued. However, Mr Dario considers this change as ‘a part of life moving forward’ as young people have to stay updated to newest change of life. He also takes a look on the bright side and realizes a recent phenomena that has positive effect which is the emergence of Pokemon Go, a free-to-play, location-based game which encourages his children to go out and be active rather than sitting in their rooms all day.

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Young people gathered together playing Pokemon Go at Sydney Opera House. Source: TenPlay.

Mr Dario also notices that his household’s TV space has changed a lot due to the development of the Internet. The family members still have some time watching TV together but most of the time their attention are put on their smartphones involving in online activities (reading news, social networking, etc). Moreover, they spend a lot of time using Netflix on TV so he thinks the nature of TV consumption in his house has changed as the TV only functions as a huge screen displaying selected materials online rather than showing broadcast content.

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Source: Daily Star UK

An interesting detail in our conversation was about his memorial moment using the Internet. Mr Dario excitedly explained to me about the first time he purchased online which he described as ‘an apprehension’ because he had to fill in his credit card details for payment. What he purchased was some canvas prints of his photo and they were sent to his front door from the other side of the world with a relatively cheap price, which made him think: ‘Wow, how good this is”.

To conclude, my interview about the Internet with Mr Dario was really useful in the way that I acquired further understanding about the first stage of the Internet development, which I am a bit unfamiliar with. I also figured out more about how the Internet influences his family interaction, the TV space in his house as well as his perspective toward the transition.

Being in media world: get lost in control.

“I am one of the kids that growing up online”.

“I know nothing about life without a smartphone”.

“If i die young, bury me in satin… okay fine, as long as there is Wifi”.

Those quotes above are not for me personally, but I find part of me in those. And I bet that lots of my peers, the people of my generation will find themselves there. This post is about my experience being in a media space, but somehow I can generalize that space is actually my life which is largely covered with media.

With so much support from media, I can control my life so easily. Want to read news ? Go to Facebook. Need urgent food ? Make a call to order. Hang out for a date ? Sit down right there, let’s video call. So easy and convenient. I used to tell my girlfriend, who is currently nearly 5000 miles away from me when I left for Australia that: “Hey love, from now on, we will be in a ‘triangle love’: you, me, the smartphone”. I am being in a media space everyday, because it is my life and I feel like I have total control of it thanks to media.

However, the bad thing is it seems to be the only choice I have. Without media, I get lost. I will struggle figuring out how to do things without Google. My interaction with my relationships will be limited without Facebook. And I would get crazy without my smartphone for no more than 24 hours.

I used to need media to make my life easier, and now I need them to continue my life.

 

 

Online celebrity: doing business

In this media convergence era, it is so easy for fans to stay connected to their idols. They simply press the ‘Follow’ or ‘Like’ button on social media and celebrity’s activities are in front of them. However, people are still wondering whether what they see of celebrities are real.

It is obvious that people adore famous people so they assume that their idols are outstanding characteristics. However, according to Marwick and Boyd, what celebrities show online are just ‘performative practices’ rather than ‘intrinsic personal characteristics’. I do not mean celebrities are bad, but they are not totally the same as how they behave online.

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However, no matter they are real or not, what they are doing is building a persona – ‘the public presentation of the self online’, according to guest lecturer Christopher Moore. They are aware of the changing media environment and the demand of people to be a part of social networks, said Hansen and Ben. Celebrities satisfy their fans by appearing in the way the fans want in exchange of the fame to build up their images. Simply saying, it is a business.

 

 

Consuming media: be smart or get smashed ?

So another week passed by and I come back to my blog. It’s been a great week that I finally (or partly) recovered from jetlag and got familiar with a new sleeping pattern (it’s the 90-minute rule if anyone is wondering). That means now I can wake up early on Wednesday morning to attend BCM110 lecture which is way more interesting than listening to it online. However, Game of Thrones is becoming a tradition of this class and I still have no idea of it.

It is obvious that the media are becoming an essential part in our lives that we interact with them on a daily basis. We may use many different forms of media (TV, radio, newspapers, the Internet) or only one but convergent form – the smartphone. The increasing usage of media raises anxieties that whether it makes us better or worse ?

One  problem mentioned in the lecture that I am really interested in is about kids that grow up online. It is pretty shocking to me that this problem seems to emerge around 10 years ago, but actually it has been anticipated since 1995 (when I was born). This problem can be seen anywhere as anytime I babysit my 2-year-old niece, she asks me to show her Youtube videos (Ju-Tut – according to her babbling voice). It is truly a light headache that she is so cute asking me that I can’t deny but the BCM110 lecture taught me that it is a real problem caused by the media.

And here the question is, do the media change our behaviours, or do we ourselves ?

Come back to the example above, ‘Twinkle twinkle little star’ is my great baby sitting tool that I can just open it on a tablet and give it to my niece then enjoy one hour in peace video calling my girlfriend. In other hand, it’s gonna be a real Hunger game: me, my niece, fighting for the tablet. She has a real weapon, her tears, which neutralizes all my attributes. Do I even have a choice ?

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The media do influences me. And I got to thank them for that.

However, we have to take a look backwards. Do the media have the power to force us to do things we don’t want to ? Do the media invent themselves ?

No, they don’t.

It is us ourselves who give up our own power to control and authorise that power to the media. We blame the media because it is never easy to admit it subjectively. Honestly, I am totally able not to show me little niece any Youtube videos although she may cry. However, I can find other ways to satisfy her such as taking her out to the playground, letting her play with my cat or even singing Twinkle Star myself (not smart actually, I sing terribly). The underlying cause here is people’s laziness, both mental and physical.

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Media are great extensions of ourselves. Therefore, take full advantage of them wisely. Use them smart, or get smashed by them.