I would like to think we have all been in that place of questioning, whether or not we should post that selfie or the candid picture of ourselves at the beach two days ago. Either the picture doesn’t go with our overall theme, or we aren’t sure whether or not it will get the same ‘likes’ as the other photos on our account. These questions are ones that would bombard an individual’s mind when they are posting pictures on their Instagram, just for the overall aesthetic of the profile.
So the overall question is, are we creating a fake persona online in order to present ourselves and our lives in a different light? Individuals who present their lives online have the capability to exaggerate their personas because they have the time to carefully formulate the way that they present themselves, which is different to the spontaneous face to face interactions that can’t be scripted. Some psychologists and sociologists who have studied these usage habits, and have found that there is little correlation between how people act in real life compared to online.
A great case that highlights this is one of an artist; Amalia Ulman, who created an online persona on Instagram (found here) in order to ask questions about the issues of gender online, and our own constructed media identities. Ulman created an Instagram account between April and September 2014, where she presented herself online as an ‘Instagram girl’, she used this as a project which she called ‘Excellence and Perfections’. She grew her account through the use of popular hashtags and created a three-part performance that explored the ways in which women presented themselves on the Instagram site.
Ulman made a performance out of her account; scripting her character to move out to the big city, break up with her long-term boyfriend, use drugs, self-destruct and then to recover all over again. In doing this she had accumulated 88,906 followers by her final project post. Her Instagram project was later shown in two major London exhibits and received widespread attention for the manipulation of the platform as well as stereotypes
that were encountered.
She used a whole lot of props, sets and locations to build her ‘authentic’ Instagram account and keep up with her aesthetic that she was building. Her pictures even went as far as pretending to get a breast augmentation, which she had to Photoshop in order to make it seem ‘real’.
This case really highlights the whole idea of building yourself online. Ulman had great success in her profile, which was overall scripted and made to seem real, However, this was not what her viewers were seeing who would have become invested in her profile.
A question to ask yourself: Are you really presenting yourself in the same way as you would in real life OR are you creating an online persona to attract others to your page?
Sources I used for this Post:
Milian, M. (2010) Online personas rarely match real-life behavior, observers say. Available at: http://phys.org/news/2010-05-online-personas-rarely-real-life-behavior.html (Accessed: 10 May 2016).
BBC and Kinsey, C. (2016) The Instagram artist who fooled thousands. Available at: http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20160307-the-instagram-artist-who-fooled-thousands (Accessed: 10 May 2016).
Amalia Ulman: Excellences & Perfections (2012) Available at: http://www.newmuseum.org/exhibitions/view/amalia-ulman-excellences-perfections (Accessed: 10 May 2016).