Teresa Giudice – Curated Online Reality

Teresa Giudice – infamous reality TV star, Italian-jersey girl, and possible federally charged criminal all wrapped up in to one. Teresa first fell into the public eye when she was cast on Bravo’s hit television show “Real Housewives of New Jersey” debuting May 12, 2009. Teresa quickly became a fan favorite with her quirky personality, over the top lifestyle and infamous table flip that has gone down in reality television history. 18274897

Teresa Giudice’s Table Flip

Teresa found a lasting place in paper headlines when news of her family bankrupcy and alleged 11 million dollars in debt went public. The bankrupcy lead to a series of legal battles between Teresa’s husband and ex business partners and ultimately led to a 42 count federal indictment this past summer. Teresa and her husband were released on $500,000 bonds each and are set to go to trial in the new year.

On Teresa’s Indictment – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6ysdlG8umc

With such tumultuous legal woes and potential life-altering events lurking in her future, one would think that Teresa would fall off the maps for a while and stay out of the spotlight. Interestingly enough, Teresa has taken a completely different approach and used social media to display her “everything is fine” mentality.

Terera’s social media approach reminds me very much of the Erving Goffman‘s idea of “front stage” and “back stage” identities. Teresa is constantly tweeting about her book signings, dinners with her loving husband and four girls, and drinks with her friends. Very rarely do Teresa’s tweets acknowledge the fact that she is facing up to 50 years in prison, her husband has been romantically linked to several other women, and she needs to continue to work to provide for her family. Teresa presents a very surface level, “front stage” self to the world of social media in hopes that her online reality will trump her offline reality. She attempts  to come off as a good mother, friend, and wife without a care in the world – the reason why America fell in love with her the first place and the person she longs to be.

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Book Signing Tweets

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Family Tweets

What is interesting about Teresa is because one of her main professions is a reality-tv personality, her job would at first appear to be allowing people access to her “back stage” world, but with all the troubles going on in her personal life, she is attempting to push back and only allow limited access to her world – i.e.  – the “front stage” Teresa uses social media to her benefit due to the social shaping qualities (as described by Nancy Baym) of twitter and instagram. These mediums afford the ability for Teresa to curate a seemingly perfect narrative when in all actuality, things may be in chaos, a practice Anthony Giddens suggests to be common.

Screen shot 2013-12-11 at 11.22.17 AMScreen shot 2013-12-11 at 11.22.36 AMInstagram Narrative (interestingly enough, Teresa and Victoria Gotti are friends….hmmm….)

Social media has become a best friend to Teresa. Teresa is active on Facebook, Instagram, and twitter, creating media multiplexity with her fan-base. As an active user of all three, Teresa gives the illusion that she is accessible to her too, an open book, and transparent. Teresa creates a kind of intimacy that Alice Marwick and Danah Boyd discuss in “To Be and Be Seen: Celebrity Practices on Twitter” as expected from social media users with such a large reach.

Teresa’s social media use has become all about impression management to her imagined audience. As Marwick and  Boyd describe, one’s imagined audience is who people percieve their followers to be (which is an image created by the user themselves). One’s imagined audience dictates how one performs on social media platforms. Teresa may have an imagined audience of thousands of fans who are waiting to see if she crumbles under all the pressure and therefore does not want to let them down. I have to wonder that with all that is going on for Teresa, as much as she is playing to her imagined audience, I wonder in her social media narrative is somewhat cathartic for herself? Perhaps an escape from reality and refuge in the online world…

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