Modern technology provides for various new communicational tools, allowing us to construct an identity from a blank page. While some feel comfortable expressing themselves in real life premises, others choose to avoid such communication, seeking comfort online. Such disparities cause multiple problems and opportunities for people, which is why this essay aims to compare and contrast how both self-presenting methods may be similar and complex.
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Reading a person’s body language may tell more than verbal expressions, which cannot be observed during wired communications. Many socially anxious or insecure people are unable adapt to the face-to-face interaction, and control the responsive environment due to fear of judgment (Goffman 1959). Public pressure, bullying or insecurities may significantly contribute to the inability of sufficient self-presentation. On the other hand, such people are more open and confident online, transforming their personality due to detachment (Bullingham and Vasconcelos 2013). Embedding self online has become a common notion, and frequently tends to be exaggerated, as compensation for existing insecurities.
The virtual network has numerous become a place for self-expression of millions of users, allowing creating alternate personalities, which regularly encounters in video gaming, for instance. People who do not feel comfortable interacting in a actual atmosphere mask behind an avatar, presenting the unlimited expression of interests they would not openly talk about (Bullingham and Vasconcelos 2013). Indeed, a highly social person may construct different identities in public groups in a non-virtual world; however, it is nearly impossible to maintain a character or express real interests under the fear of civil judgment.
Despite fundamental differences in self-presentation online and tangible situations, some surprising similarities may be found, while comprehensively studying these matters. In both realities, people tend to use preventive or protective practices to avoid a confrontational situation. It may happen in the virtual environment while encountering cyberbullying or avoiding wired interaction to keep away from such comments. Similarly, in real life, individuals may avoid social presentation or doing certain actions to maintain their statuses and save the profile in front of others (Goffman 1959). Thus, even the Internet world may become judgmental, encouraging the application of defensive means to protect self-esteem.
Fear of rebranding of self is also present in both environments. Frequently influencers establish a particular brand on social media that may not correspond to their identity. As the person evolves, they are afraid to distance themselves from the character due to public judgment and loss of audience. Bullingham confirms such fear of negative response to behavior change that may damage its reputation (2013). Like the virtual network, the act is frequently maintained by certain individuals to keep civil endorsement. Intentional employment of a persona in a certain setting is harder to refrain from the further in time it occurs, as the individual builds up the reputation (Goffman 1959). Therefore, socialization in the online and actual circumstances does have similarities that are often displayed in the form of fear of judgment.
If I were to choose one interaction method, I would undoubtedly select in-person communication due to multiple arguments. People are social creatures, who need companionship for the maintenance of self-validation. No face-time calls or text messages can replace a real-life meet-up and a person’s physical presence. Quarantine is an excellent example of how many people became mentally unstable due to lack of public interaction and isolation despite online communication access. Therefore, I prefer real-world companionship and a person’s physical presence to dry virtual texting and pretending.
Concluding, self-presentation in connected and non-virtual circumstances can significantly differ, with numerous benefits and disadvantages of the utilization of both. Individuals unable to openly communicate in the actual environment find comfort masking under construct identities online, feeling comfortable. Nevertheless, fictional characters created in both realities can significantly influence a person’s social circle and behavior, which not many can further break from. Consequently, it is essential to control self-presentation not to become an actor in your life play.
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Bullingham, Liam, and Ana C. Vasconcelos. 2013. “‘The Presentation of Self in the Online World’: Goffman and the Study of Online Identities.” Journal of Information Science 39(1):101–12. Web.
Goffman, Erving. 1959. The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. New York: Doubleday.