Many would agree that most of our lives in the 21st century is online. If you disagree, then maybe you are still living in the 20th century. All around us, we are surrounded by digital devices and social media, projecting an image of what we want people to see. In Wilcox and Stephens journal article, it describes that people lean towards presenting a socially desirable, positive self-view to others when they are online or on social media such as Facebook and Instagram.” (2013). In my own experience, this is precisely true, and from unashamedly stalking others Facebook and Instagram pages, I cannot fault this idea.
I myself only post the most glamorous moments of my life online to show the people I am ‘friends’ with how good my life is, or at least how good I want them to THINK it is. It’s not difficult to comprehend why we don’t showcase the bad stuff that goes on in our lives. The difficult things we individually go through aren’t things that we like to publicise to everyone we know, sometimes to even our closest friends. However, even with this in mind, Facebook profiles have been shown to reflect actual characteristics as opposed to idealised characteristics that do not represent one’s actual personality (Wilcox & Stephens, 2013)
Scrolling through Facebook, it is easy to dive down into a deep hole of profile clicking and content consumption. It might seem quite harmless, clicking onto a person’s profile, maybe its a friend, a friend of a friend, or someone you don’t even know, but in any case, you click on it and start a visual scan of their lives. Glancing at their profile picture, or the past five, seeing mutual friends, what they like, what they share, it all informs your idea of who they are.
Postill and Pink in an article about Social Media and the Digital Researcher describe that “the rapid growth of social media platforms, applications, practices and activity are threefold. They create new sites for ethnographic fieldwork, foster new types of ethnographic practice and invite critical perspectives on the theoretical frames that dominate internet studies…” (2012). Whether it is conscious or not, we are continually learning new things about people through their social media pages. If we take it one step further, we can evaluate the patterns of peoples lives regarding their culture, age bracket, and so on.
On my own profile above, you can see just a few things about me, what I find important enough to share and a few posts that I have been tagged in. At first glance, this is all just pointless information that is processed and immediately forgotten. But looking at it, trying to decipher who I am, what can you learn? To give you a blatant detail that you can without a doubt see, I am a Parramatta Eels fan. What else can you find out?