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Individuals rely on digital self-presentation strategies to control how they are perceived as well as to create and develop relationships with others. Accordingly, to achieve these goals information is selectively provided as a means of responding to feedback provided by others within the social space. Today, the increased adoption of internet-based communication platforms facilitates users with digital self-presentation tools for creating custom personal pages and accounts. Subsequently, users have access to a variety of different communication modes ranging from plain text posts regarding individual information, status updates and comments to the sharing of images and other user-generated content (UGC). In addition to that, a user’s online community members contribute a considerable share of personal information that creates significant challenges in the effective management of an individual digital image. Given that, this essay explores the different strategies that individuals employ in digitally representing themselves.
Strategies Employed in Digital Self Presentation
By virtue of being social entities, users in cyberspace employ various strategies in creating their digital self-image in the minds of fellow users. Despite the lack of a theoretical framework that explains the use of digital tools to create favorable online images; this essay posits five common digital self-representation strategies. These strategies are depicted in Table 1 below.
Table 1. Five primary self-presentation strategies
|Self-Presentation Strategy||Desired Outcome||Associated Behaviors||Related Risks|
|Exemplification||Moral and virtue uprightness||Altruism and self-sacrifice||Sanctimony and deception|
|Ingratiation||Likable||Favors and compliments||Deceit and insincerity|
|Intimidation||Ruthlessness or power||Use of threats||Revulsion|
|Self-promotion||Competency||Showing off and boasting||Fraudulence and self-importance|
|Supplication||Pity and helplessness||Self deprecation||Manipulation and neediness|
In using this strategy, an individual seeks to portray an impression of possessing high morality, virtuousness, or righteousness. Often exemplification entails the exaggeration of details related to an individual’s experience of adversity or ill-treatment. For example, individuals may post comments regarding their ideological preferences, religious beliefs, political opinions, devotion to a sacred pursuit, ambitions, moral astuteness, philanthropic, and charity engagements. Additionally, analyzing information in the sports, philosophy, arts, and fun sections of a user’s online profile reveals the extent of exemplification’s use in creating the desired online image (Rawlings, 2013).
Ingratiation encompasses a set of behaviors that seek to influence others to like one’s self. For this reason, ingratiating behaviors have definite goals and employs various approaches. Typically, people tend to agree or like people who say positive things about them. Given this reason, an individual may resort to ingratiation as a means of gaining his appreciation in the minds and hearts of others. Examples of ingratiatory behaviors include too much use of smileys, humor, over-courteousness, self-disdain, imitation, and flattery (Murphy, 2014).
Several related behaviors comprise the intimidation strategy of digital self-representation geared towards the creation of a dangerous and menacing self-image. With intimidation, an online user desires that others perceive him as a threat to reckon with. For instance, an employer who desires to be viewed as ruthless, tough, or powerful might comment negatively on Facebook about an employee’s performance. The boss may perceive this behavior as a way of increasing productivity or softening demands for benefits or better salaries.
Individuals typically utilize this strategy to convince others of their competence, intelligence, or skillfulness. An individual may on social networking sites (SNS) boast of his academic achievements or talents in the personal identifier and personal information sections of his profile. However, a major difference between self-promotion and ingratiation is that the former is quantifiable. . For instance, the posting of comments and pictures may help create positive feedback which in turn affects an individual’s self-esteem (Murphy, 2014).
People who utilize this strategy typically exaggerate their weaknesses or deficiencies through the use of comments or status updates that portraying them as helpless, needy, and weak (Berlatsky, 2017). Common examples of this strategy include expressions such as “I have never changed bulbs before” or “I don’t how to do that, mind helping me?” Nonetheless, individuals may engage in these behaviors if it will eventually get them what they desire.
In conclusion, it should be noted that these strategies are linked to personal motives that evolve over time. Individuals may use several strategies to create digital images that portray the self. In turn, as one aspect of the self is explored, individuals may utilize digitals mediums to display and explore other facets of the self. Besides that, digital tools offer individuals a means of exploring the effect of the self-presented image on a target audience Additionally, individuals often are mirrors of their own behaviors and self-image. Hence, by seeking to convince others of their self-presented image, they end up convincing of their own worth. On one hand, the self-presentation process can either be a passive or active reflecting how individuals privately perceive themselves. On the other hand, employing these strategies does not always imply an individual’s conscious efforts to mislead or deceive others. Nonetheless, successful self-presentation requires the creation of a balance between the benefits and believability of the digitally presented self-image. Therefore, individuals need to match their behaviors to an audience’s expectations and knowledge.
We can do it today.
- Berlatsky, N. (2017, February 22). Selfies aren’t a sign of the decay of civilization. They’re modern art. Retrieved from https://qz.com/916169/selfies-arent-a-sign-of-the-decay-of-civilization-theyre-modern-art/
- Murphy, S. (2014, January 24). 82% of Women Think Social Media Drives the Definition of Beauty. Retrieved from http://mashable.com/2014/01/24/dove-beauty-study/#R9TUfy1yXgqF
- Rawlings, K. (2013, November 21). Selfies and the history of self-portrait photography. Retrieved from https://blog.oup.com/2013/11/selfies-history-self-portrait-photography/