My Online Identities
Having social media accounts is associated with being a millennial, and I can count on one hand how many of my peers don't have Facebook or Instagram. Back when I first got Facebook in 2009, it was merely to connect with my friends from back home in France. It was so much easier than the good ol' MSN chats, Facebook allowed me to see photos and videos and made me feel like I wasn't so far away from them. Fast forward to 2019 and I look back at my old posts and I am ASHAMED of what I posted 10 years ago: sometimes I'm so ashamed I delete the post entirely! I don't use Facebook as much as I use Instagram: on Facebook I mainly "tag" my close friends in funny memes, cute animal videos or photos of delicious and incredibly unhealthy meals...I'll post the odd status about things that I am passionate about (usually my love and devotion for dogs).
Instagram, however... that's a whole different story.
I currently have two Instagram accounts: one personal and one for my photography. Now, you would think I put way more effort into my photography account, right? Wrong. Although the way it is presented is "clean" and themed, I don't necessarily go out of my way to take photos just for the 'gram. When I do go out and take photos (not of myself), it usually is for experience, not just for social media.
My personal account doesn't have a theme and looks pretty messy (in my opinion), but takes up more of my time to curate. Why? Because I want to present the "best" version of myself, which isn't necessarily the truest version of myself. I spend time getting my friends to take dozens of photos of me, looking through all of them only to pick one to be posted, making me feel like Tyra Banks giving out the last photo on America's Next Top Model. I try not to post too many photos of myself, breaking up my feed with photos that I've taken, which rack up a lot less likes (makes me a little mad, not going to lie); but I even have a separate app linked to my account to help me plan my feed . Just on Saturday, I spent time planning different outfits to go to different locations and take photos, for both my personal and photography accounts.
Now, we know that luck plays a big part in wildlife/landscape photos, and luck was not on my side Saturday: my goal was to go to Kirribilli and take two different shots, one for each account. I pictured the sunset lighting up behind the harbour bridge, taking a sunset photo of the bridge for my photography account; and have my friend take photos of me with the same backdrop for my personal account. I checked the weather, the time the sun was going to set, planned a beautiful outfit to match yet contrast the sunset. When we got there, it was misty, cloudy, and there were people at THE exact spot I knew was perfect for both photos. I ended up being more upset (so upset that I tweeted about it) that I didn't get the shots of myself than just of the bridge, because I felt like the content on my personal page was average and I was lacking new, exciting content.
Having to write a post on online identity for my social media class really opened my eyes as to how much effort I put into the instagram version of myself, but also made me think about upcoming trips and wanting to look at locations beforehand to get those perfect shots.
Since when did it become so important to me for my account to be aesthetically pleasing?
I started "properly"editing my photos on my personal account when I started taking photography classes, so maybe I felt that with all the perfect photos on the internet these days, mine were subpar and I needed to step up my game? Did I start following too many social media influencers? Why do I care so much about my private, personal account, but not my photography account, which I often promote on Twitter? As seen in the research experiment "What we Instagram: A First Analysis of Instagram Photo Content and User Types" (Hu, Manikonda, Kambhampati, 2014) the most seen content on Instagram are selfies and friends, which is about the same time as I started becoming more aware of my content: if this is the content we are most exposed to, wouldn't that influence the way we construct our online identity?