It’s hard to remember life before social media, isn’t it? For most millennials, the days before Snapchat and Instagram are like a dark age– hard to remember and not nearly as “fun.”

I put “fun” in quotations because I want to think deeper about what social media means for our identities. And I am not the only one. It seems like recently more and more people are voicing their opinions about the ramifications social media is having on us and our ability to be truthful in our identities and relationships.

The Social Stage

Zizi Papacharissi writes about this topic in her book, A Networked Self.  In the concluding chapter of the book, Papacharissi dives into the issue of self-presentation. As Paparcharissi writes, “the process of self-presentation becomes an ever-evolving cycle through which individual identity is presented, compared, adjusted, or defended against a constellation of social, cultural, economic, or political realities” (pg. 304). Because of social media, we are now able to manipulate the social reality in which we are viewed. Through photo editing and carefully written captions and statuses, we are able to dictate how we are perceived by those who view our social media profiles. Therefore, the gap between our public and private lives is getting smaller.

Papcharissi, however, is not the first to reach this conclusion. Sociologist Erving Goffman is most known for his dramaturgical view of society. He believed we put on different “faces” for the different situations we find ourselves in. For example, the “face” I put on when talking to a professor is much different than the “face” I put on for my friends. By changing “roles” so frequently, we put on “mini performances” for those we interact with (pg. 307).

Another point I found interesting in Papacharissi’s chapter is through social media, we are in a “locus of connection” (pg. 306). We are in a constant state of connectivity to one another through mutual friends on Facebook, suggested profiles to follow on Instagram, and the capability to “add” friends on Snapchat simply by having their phone number. This has caused me to wonder if we are losing our sense of independence and individuality. If I am constantly digitally connected to people through the device in the palm of my hand, how am I supposed to grow as an individual? Additionally, how I am I supposed to learn how to build intentional relationships?

Joshua Meyrowitz writes about this in his book, No Sense of Place. He argues social media sites (SNS) have made, “subtle changes in the ‘situational geography of social life’” (pg. 307). Have our social lives and relationships been forever changed because of social networking? These are questions we need to ask ourselves.

Social media has potentially placed a gap between how we view ourselves and how others perceive us. {Mintel}

“The Social System”

On a less personal front, social media can also greatly impact businesses. As written in her AdWeek article “The Social Strategy,” Kimberlee Morrison points out that companies with clear social media strategies have the most success on social. Gretchen Fox and Kyra Reed, the cofounders of social strategy and training agency Made To Order, put together 5 key steps to any good social media strategy, also known as “The Social System.” The steps are…

  1. Social identity –> social is a two-way conversation
  2. Community activation –> you need to understand who your audience is and what they want from you
  3. Content strategy –> your content needs to be based on identity and audience
  4. Social campaigns –> these will only be successful if the previous three steps are completed
  5. Social intelligence –> use of stats and metrics to better listen, respond and engage with audience in real-time

My good friend Julia wrote a great blog post about using social media in building personal brands. Be sure to check it out!


I saw an image recently that stuck with me for its truth and positive message about social media. It is so easy to get wrapped up in maintaining our “social stages” and business social goals that we loose sight of the bigger picture.

{Pinterest}

Get out there and get social! (online and in person)

Love from GVL,

Caroline

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