Are Social Media Sites an Extension of Who We Are?

Marshall McLuhan famously said “the medium is any extension of ourselves,” which brings me to ask, are social media sites an extension of who we areĀ or is it a fabricated persona of who we want to be perceived as through a mediated medium?

7 thoughts on “Are Social Media Sites an Extension of Who We Are?

  1. Good question! It’s definitely not an easy question to answer but I personally think it depends on the individual person. Everyone has their own personal agenda as to why they have one or more social media accounts. I think social media is an extension of ourselves because imagine the world without it today! I don’t think its even possible. Before reading Creativity in the Online Environment by Kenny and Cohen I always had this preconceived notion that our society used social media as a platform to disguise themselves from reality and put on a persona that they ordinarily would not act upon in their daily lives. However, I’ve taken into consideration what Danah Boyd says about choosing to represent oneself in different ways on different sites with the expectation of different audiences and different norms. Therefore, it’s not so much that people are “faking it” for social media but they represent different forms of themselves in the different social media sites they are a part of. Thus, discourse communities thrive where similar interests and personas are shared. But again, everyone is different so who really knows?

  2. This is a loaded question and i think as Fola said it depends on the person. For celebrities and other public figureheads its absolutely an extension of themselves, their ideas and so on. But for average everyday people it can be an extension of who you are and what youd like to present to the world, again reflecting off what Fola said we sometimes have more than one social media account. For example my college advisor in my previous college suggested i make “professional” social media accounts that i could link to my linkdin where people could see my “professional” persona. I think its just become such a norm to link to people in different social circles online its common practice to have more than one account. I dont think its harmful either until you step into the territory of say catfishing or online bullying from anonoymous accounts. Overall though if we can stay relative when using these social tools they can work as an advantage to us all connecting us to possible job oppertunities or even connecting us with childhood friends.

    • Good points here Sam. I want to push back about the celebrity/public figures comment a bit though: do you really think that social media offers these folks “an extension of themselves” (in some sort of “true essence” way), or are they “marketing” themselves (either for commercial or social success) to their audience? Is this, then, in a way, just a performance as well (the same way you present or perform yourself professionally in a space like LinkedIn)?

  3. I think that social media allows us to be who we want to be and it also allows us to hide our true self. It is both. I don’t think it’s a box that we have to fit in or pick one side or another. There are so many ways for people to express themselves that people are sometimes willing to try different things. Sometimes we are true to ourselves and sometimes we are not but I believe that social media allows us to be both.

  4. Thanks Jodie for starting this interesting thread. This discussion makes me think of the documentary ‘Catfish’ (http://www.iamrogue.com/catfish), which led to the MTV series. We watched this documentary in one of my ENG 1101 classes a few semesters, and the whole concept/film raises many intriguing questions about the performance of identities in digital spaces. Here is a link to some of those questions/discussion prompts (you can also check out the student posts on it too, if you’re interested): https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/belli-sp2014-eng1101/2014/02/18/catfish-response/

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