Dating my online presence back to when “Naomi Gnome” – the alias name I chose to commence my Facebook journey, while of course, safeguarding my full name as discerned by my parents and teachers – my ten plus year pilgrimage of social media involvement has nuances, growth, change, and complexities that goes beyond the simplicity of just a profile.  I have consciously – as well as subconsciously, taken on fear and anxiety as a result from my self-prescribed engagement. I have faced the inner critic that exists within my own narrative of enough-ness. What constitutes as a good idea? What will this symbolize to my viewers? What will my audience think of me? These are all notions that speak much larger to my own insecurity of e-vulnerability; a term I would like to coin to represent tears shed on a YouTube video, a “WARNING: LONG CAPTION AHEAD” Instagram post, or anything deemed as pushing one’s own boundaries online, for others to see, hear, and experience behind their own black mirror. Fear and anxiety gained on behalf of this past ten excursion extends to my many profiles of self, and this blog is no different.

While Bargh et. al (2002), express that this sense of anonymity behind one’s screen, allows for more likelihood to share parts of one self-online, that one may choose to conceal when interacting face-to-face, my own reality with such sentiments is far from the truth. Perhaps being a Communications major is to my disadvantage, or perchance, my very British Father has drilled into me that connectivity is fostered through closeness and vulnerability…in the flesh, but I struggle with the act of sharing online. Texting? Not my jam. DMing? Pictures only. Intimate conversations? In person! The combination of critiquing our societies interactions with media platforms and living through the ever-evolving nature of social media sites, I have always had contention grappling with the concept of attaching a strain of myself to content I produce. I prefer to utilize my online presence to make people laugh, be funny, self-deprecating, share photos of my one-eyed dog (she’s fine and healthy, her vision doesn’t impact how much I love her or her own quality of life!), spread love when friends of mine hit milestones, but never, have I intended to use my online presence to create closeness through sharing what keeps me up at night.

During reflection of my own through creating and writing this blog, I have come to the realization that while I may not be the candidate for contributing to e-vulnerability, it is something I admire and long for. For instance, I look to accounts local (@allymaz @lifebygiulia) and those at “blue checkmark” status (@wearenotreallystrangers @morganharpernichols) for my own guidance, reassurance, and as inspiration to overcoming hardship. It is them that myself, and many others, turn to in times of uncertainty- and that is nothing to feel shame over! We should not feel shame or embarrassment over connection through the means of social media as thanks to the internet. This is the reality, society, and era we live in. And yes, as I have my own hesitations with this type of connection, that is all it is: a type. An angle. An aspect. It does not mean that this is one’s end all be all means of communication and connection as I feel like I have viewed it in the past, it is merely, just one-side to one’s story.

While having the space under pressure to reevaluate my own self, I have found that I place personal expectations on myself to a degree that oftentimes, are unattainable. And that is where the beauty of this blog comes from. I have learned to create my own avatar and let her speak. If my own discomfort with linking my name to a website about sustainability is too much for my own relationship of self and presentation, I just let her speak! I let her create goofy memes, art, words, whatever it may be. Dating back to Hinduism, ‘avatar’ refers to “a god descending to the earth in a mortal form” (Hess, 2016), and that speaks volumes to the mindset I had to undertake to combat my own e-vulnerability fear.

So, where does this leave me? With a perspective that nothing weighs the most. Nothing weighs the most in terms of defining your own self-worth. If you feel comfortable or gain something from online sharing? Do it. Because I can guarantee, there is someone out there searching for that strength, and they will thank you.

REFERENCES

Bargh, J.A., McKenna, K.Y., & Fitzsimons, G. M. (2002, December 17). Can you see the real me? Activation and expression of the “true self” on the internet. Journal of Social Issues, 58(1), 33-48.

Hess, M. (2016, May 16). What do our online avatars reveal about us? Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/15/magazine/what-do-our-online-avatars-reveal-about-us.html

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