A recent article on The Telegraph website researched what factors went into comprising the ideal social media profile. Muddling through expected results, such as, women who looked like morphs of Mila Kunis and Kelly Brook were most likely to be accepted as new ‘friends’, the fact that “Over 50 percent of British social media users admit to augmenting their online identity to attract the opposite sex, from Photoshopping images of themselves, to exaggerating details such as age, weight, height and occupation” came as no surprise. Their finding has me wondering if people are as narcissistic and disconnected in their physical lives, as they are in their online identities and online preoccupations. There’s nothing more nauseating than to watch as friends or even strangers for that matter, create identities that are so extravagant, not to mention beyond their means. There was a Valleyspeak catchphrase from the 80s which went something like this, “Gag me with a spoon!” I’d like to do just that whenever viewing these profiles. These individuals share traits found in what we all know as a ‘poser.’ Beads thrown from a Mardi Gras float have more value than what we find within these social network profiles. The poser is deeply inauthentic in the shaping of their online identities; thus creating an online persona that’s been reworked more times than a little black dress with an endless closet of accessories!
The poser has two distinct justifications or excuses for se carefully crafting and self censored their profiles. Often times, a poser will use jobs as an excuse for the make-believe crafting or revising. The truth of the matter is that if they’re overly concerned about what a prospective or current employer may think, then get the hell off Twitter or use a pseudonym. Furthermore, private your Facebook profile so that no one can view compromising material. Why don’t the people stop this ideal editing and stick with a less than glamourous forum, such as LinkedIn? If the job isn’t the excuse, then it heaps on to the other pile of seeking drama and attention. For those that are crafting in order to appear to be something other than what people will align as the same impression in real time as served up virtually, please do us all a favor and get a life. Life isn’t the movie, Heathers! These posers are not superstars nor do they have public relations firms admonishing them for showcasing TMI, therefore, why are they acting as such? Clearly, posers use social networks as a forum to craft their best selves, highlighting fantasy or heightened reality and omitting the things that makes us individuals who learn and grown from varying less-than-glamorous experiences.
We all like to look good on a resume, but disembodiment, as illustrated by Don Slater in Social Relationships and Identity Online and Offline, doesn’t have to be fiction or photoshopping to the point of being unrecognizable. Slater describes the factors of online and offline representation variance, as embodiment that “signifies that a person’s online identity is apparently separate from their physical presence, a condition associated with two features: textuality and anonymity.” (536) What I find happening in regards to the poser is an inclination of creating a performative self. Slater describes the performativity in online identities as “liberated from the concept of authenticity itself, and enter a different ethics and politics, that of performance.” (536) The problem is the agency afforded to posers who blur the lines when deconstructing themselves and performing someone else. In Hugo Liu’s article, Social Network Profiles as Taste Performances, he explains the interest prompts as ways in which profiles define one’s identity and ultimately one’s consumption and possessions define who we are and what others think of us. If a definite impression is formed as to who we are through this vehicle, even more importance should be placed on the effects that a poser can have on themselves and others. What would be interesting to know in Liu’s study is where did suspected posers factor into his study? Liu cites, “If and when the demographics of social network sites equal the demographics of society in general. insights such as these will take on new social importance.” (273) The ways in which social media has transitioned from networking and catching up with friends (since Liu’s 2006-2007 studies) to that of narcissistic posing, would be an interesting revisit in comparing how his findings possibly differ today.