The Presentation of Self on/through New Media
SİTİ DEWİ AİSYAH/Hacettepe University Faculty of Communication, Graduate Student
If we talk about New Media, it is about something new in our time in terms of media. The concept of New Media will always be new and renewed. The New Media is coming because of the development of the internet.
Quoting what Brandon Vogt said on The Church and New Media, New Media most commonly refers to content available on-demand through the Internet, accessible on any digital device, usually containing interactive user feedback and creative participation. Common examples of new media include websites such as online newspapers, blogs, or wikis, video games, and social media. A defining characteristic of new media is dialogue. New Media transmit content through connection and conversation. It enables people around the world to share, comment on, and discuss a wide variety of topics. Unlike any of past technologies, New Media is grounded on an interactive community. 
Due to its interactivity, there is a freedom of speech in which we can say everything we want to say without any doubt, even the harsh we can also comment on it. There is no such mediator in this case. For example, in a blog, facebook or instagram, there is no mediator who can solve the debate or discussion among the commenter but however the owner of this social media can delete the unproper comment before anyone else can see but because sometimes famous people can have many comments, they even cannot read one by one. So this problem is undeniably hided.
Nowadays. the existency in social media is like a must. In Facebook, we even call it “Home” which actually it represents our “self representation”. Imagine what we do in our home, we can do almost everything without being embarassed. However, our social media is also known by others. Even if it is called “home”, we have to filter whatever we want to share especially if we are “social media figures”.
Talking about self-representation, first we have to underline that sometimes we are enganging in social media for being a famous figure. But sometimes, we decide that we only an audience of the famous figures in social media. So the first question that has to be asked is 1. How can we be famous in social media?
- Is it easy to make ourselves famous in social media?
- Does social media really present ourselves?
Let me describe one by one. First, the way to get famous in social media is using a hashtag, we can use a famous hashtag that is still on trending topic. Second one, we can often comment on the feed from someone that has already been famous or retweet the famous qoutes. Also we can make or join a community in which we are interested in.
I observe that in Instagram, the famous Instagrammers, whom were previously infamous, who get lots of followers are (this case is especially happening in my country and can happen in Turkey too) are photographers, fashion people, chefs or people who post about food, yogi, make up artists, illustrator and of course because the majority of the religion in our country is Islam, hijabi got a lot of followers especially the one who are inspiring and motivating people to being covered.
Is it easy to make ourselves a public figure in social media? The answer in between, sometimes it can be incoincidently easy but somehow there are also a lot of people who really take efforts to become famous. The people who first exist in the new media can be more famous than people who are late using it. There is a blogger (also instagrammer too) who have her own team to make her famous in social media. It can be that they pay for being promoted.
And if they have become famous, is it easy being a public figure? Not at all. There are a lot of destructive comments and even a hater community, if I can say, about us, about our activity. Being a public figure, we have also to be good and be shown as a beautiful or handsome person.
The last question is about presentation of ourselves in social media. This can be referred to Erving Goffman’s book The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life which uses the imagery of the theatre in order to portray the importance of human social interaction.
The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life was the first book to treat face-to-face interaction as a subject of sociological study. Goffman treated it as a kind of report in which he frames out the theatrical performance that applies to face-to-face interactions. He believed that when an individual comes in contact with other people, that individual will attempt to control or guide the impression that others might make of him by changing or fixing his or her setting, appearance and manner. At the same time, the person the individual is interacting with is trying to form and obtain information about the individual.
Goffman also believed that all participants in social interactions are engaged in certain practices to avoid being embarrassed or embarrassing others. This led to Goffman’s dramaturgical analysis. Goffman saw a connection between the kinds of acts that people put on in their daily life and theatrical performances.
In social interaction, as in theatrical performance, there is a front region where the “actors” (individuals) are on stage in front of the audiences. This is where the positive aspect of the idea of self and desired impressions are highlighted. There is also a back region or stage that can also be considered as a hidden or private place where individuals can be themselves and set aside their role or identity in society.
The core of Goffman’s analysis lies in this relationship between performance and life. Unlike other writers who have used this metaphor, Goffman seems to take all elements of acting into consideration: an actor performs on a setting which is constructed of a stage and a backstage; the props in both settings direct his action; he is being watched by an audience, but at the same time he is an audience for his viewers’ play. 
The theater itself can be replaced by social media. The social media is the replacement of a theatre. We, the users, are the actor of the play. The followers or likers are the audience who see our play. It can be seen that someone can be a famous actor in a social media because the divergence of our media. Not only people who are shown on theater, television or radio who can be famous. Those are types of “old media”, but now the era of “new media” is on the digital world. Someone who has an interest profile can be an actor in the social media.
In the digital world, the human social interaction can be easily found because it is interactive media. But the problem is, it is not face-to-face like what Goffman mean in his book. The interaction is better if we have a face-to-face meeting so the discussion will flow smooth and direct.
Back to the presentation of self, as research suggests, your “real self” is what you are – your attributes, your characteristics, and your personality. Your “ideal self” is what you feel you should be; much of it due to societal and environmental influences. From a societal standpoint, many of us are driven by competition, achievement, and status; hence, the creation and portrayal of our ideal selves. 
Consider the fact that on social media sites, we consider our profiles to be presentations of who we are. Therefore, through interaction with the social medium, the real and ideal selves intersect; and the ideal self is at least partially actualized. In essence, our online selves represent our ideals and eliminate many of our other real components.
Social media, sometimes, can present ourselves but sometimes not. If we want to be honest, we can put everything about us on our social media. We can post every activity on our social media, in a summary we can post anything we want in our social media. However, there are people who use social media to create a good image of them.
However, there is a bad effect of social media, that is sometimes we are lulled by the loves or likes from the people follow us. There is a famous blogger, YouTuber and instagrammers named Essena O’Neill, who once was inspiration for youngster, wants to quit from social media. She had depression after her popularity in social media because she has to be beautiful on her social media to make her followers happy. She takes hours to get beautiful photos just to make her followers satisfied.
She said, “I used to be obsessed of being followed and loved. That was my happiness”. . She also said in another video “Everything I did just for views, likes and followers”.  Sometimes she does not represent herself because she did that to be loved by people not what she really wanted to show on her social media. She also said that because of social media, she felt like excluded from her society because she only cares about her social media. “I could connect with them but I just more focused with the social media, how many loves I have got from my photos”. 
The reason that she wanted to quit from social media is because “I don’t want to be defined by numbers because there is never enough. You don’t have to prove your life on Instagram that you have a good life. I don’t want to take photograph just to get likes. That’s not life”. From her statement, it can be said that social media only gives her temporary happiness, that she could earn money from social media but then she felt depressed because there have been to many responsibilities that she has to endure.
However, there is also a good effect from social media for promoting self image or self branding. In Indonesia, there is Dian Pelangi who now gets 3,6 Million followers. Dian Pelangi is a digital influencer and tour de force in the global Muslim fashion scene and beyond. The Indonesian designer is credited with pushing the traditional boundaries of Muslim fashion, and with her extensive social media following. Pelangi is influencing a broad demographic with her modern take on Muslim dress. Her success is emblematic of the wider Islamic style and Muslim designer-wear movement and growing market rising out at specialised fashion weeks in Indonesia and Malaysia.
Pelangi has held fashion shows in Britain, France, Germany, Holland, Australia, Dubai, Egypt, Kuwait, Qatar, the USA and Jordan and is a regular at Jakarta Fashion Week – where she showed her first collection at just 18.
Pelangi first known as a blogger then she was famous in Twitter because she has founded a community named Hijabers Community. From the very first time, Instagram was used by smartphone users, she has been using it and now she got advantage of social media. Until now she can be International Muslim Fashion Designer, the only one from Indonesia who is very successful, and is credited by BOF (Business of Fashion) Magazine as 500 Influencial People Shaping Global Fashion Industry. Her company also uses YouTube and Facebook for promotion but now mostly on Instagram which she has many followers on it.
The conclusion is if social media can present ourselves depends on how we use that social media for, if we can take a good advantage of it, we can get the benefit but if we don’t we can get stressed by our popularity. Thus, use social media wisely.
“New Media”. 16 November 2015.
“The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life”. 16 November 2015.
3. R. Kay Green. “The Social Media Effect: Are You Really Who You Portray Online?”. 17 November 2015.
Essena O’Neill. “Why I Think Social Media Sucks”. 17 November 2015.
- Essena O’Neill. “Why I Really Am Quitting Social Media”. 17 November 2015
- Business of Fashion. 17 November 2015.