Essay 1

Private and Public Personas and Authenticity on Social Media

[Focus: the modelling world.]

Adrian Miles coined the term ‘Network Literate’ in 2007, to describe someone who has a deep understanding of the implications associated with participating ‘within a print defined and governed information economy’ (Miles, 2007). He parallelled this to ‘print literacy’ which is like finding your way around a library. However, network literacy is not closed like print literacy, and facilitates things such as ‘presence bleed’ (Gregg in Hinton & Hjorth 2013) and ‘produsage’, a term coined by Axel Bruns (in Miles, 2007) to describe the evolved state of the media user as someone who both produces content on and uses online media.

Gregg’s ‘presence bleed’ acknowledges the increasingly nebulous divide between what information is private and what is public. Profiles and presences can be presented, warped and arranged in such a way that one might say that ‘the pen is mightier than the …words written with it’ – the “cultural significance of media lies not in their content but in the way they alter our perception of the world.” (McLuhan in Potts & Murphy)

There is even a set of guidelines, drafted by Andreas Kaplan and Michael Haenlein (2010), on tips for social media usage by companies. The most interesting three are “Choose carefully” (“firms should be active wherever their customer base is present”), “Be active” (post regularly) and “Be honest” (don’t be misleading).

Over a week, I blogged every day about my media use. I observed a pattern emerging in the apps I use, and the limit to which I participate in the online space.

I tend to check Facebook, Snapchat and YouTube in the morning, first thing while I exercise. I used to check Instagram morning and night, but I noted that my Instagram use is dwindling. I suggest that this is because I find that it stresses me to spend time on it and compare myself to what others are doing. I tend to focus on using Pinterest and YouTube right before I go to bed, to fill my mind with interesting and nice thoughts and to listen to soporific soundtracks. This is because I can get severe anxiety attacks at night (para 5) and this helps stave them off.

I did not act much as a ‘produser’ in this week. I published maybe 1 photo on Instagram and a photo or two for people’s birthdays on Facebook, but I was mainly a passive consumer. Even then, I mainly restrained my online presence to platforms where I was not trying to compete to gain my own following – echoing the sentiment of Lovink (in Hinton & Hjorth), saying, ‘networks without cause are time-eaters’.

My modelling agency recently emailed all its talent about social media usage. They asked all models with an Instagram following of 10k and over to nominate themselves to be placed into the ‘Celebrity/Influencer’ page on the website, and sent us a pamphlet of tips to build your social media profile for those with under 10k.

The parameters set within this brochure sum up to include the following:

 

  • Have a professional (modelling) instagram, set on Public, and if you want a personal instagram also, set it on Private.
  • Don’t have a public Facebook page – unless you have a huge following.

 

It is clear that my agency “chose carefully” (Kaplan and Haenlein, 2010) and considered their customer base when advising us to use Instagram. Photographers and the fashion and fitness worlds dominate this image-based platform.

  • Post 1-2 times a day but no more. Post between 7-9am, 12-2pm and 5.30-8pm but not on Friday and Saturday nights when people go out and don’t check Instagram as much. This lines up with Kaplan and Haenlein’s “Be active” tip.

 

  • Hashtag your posts but no more than four per post (This part confused me. Is it so as not to seem desperate? I hashtag up to 20 times a post, but I do this in a comment under the caption so the hashtags aren’t immediately obvious).

 

 

  • Follow only people with large followings so you can be inspired (this didn’t make sense to me, as I find inspiration in smaller accounts as well as the 6-figures). Also, the bigger an account is, the more bland and pandering-to-the-masses it is. Not inspiring at all.

 

 

 

  • Network with colleagues with high followings. This made sense to me. I observed it with my own eyes on two occasions. One being: our agency’s top earning model (“Sarah”) with over 1M followers became friends in 2015 with another model (“Lauren”) who was with another, smaller agency. After collaborating a few times with Sarah, Lauren got a lot of publicity on Sarah’s instagram and her following rose dramatically; to the point where she left her smaller agency and came to join Sarah on the list of ‘top three Melbourne influencers’ at the larger agency.

 

 

 

  • Post about healthy lifestyles, food and gym . “People love to see models living a healthy lifestyle”

 

The healthy lifestyle part is exactly what got ‘Sarah’ and ‘Lauren’ so popular, as well as others I know. They base their posts around tanned skin, swimwear shoots, berry smoothies and yoga and running. When not modelling they are personal trainers or sell E-Books on healthy living. It’s very bland to observe.

The problem on that is that I don’t have a strong personal brand – my interests and activities, and therefore, what I post, are so widely varying that it’s hard to find an ‘aesthetic’ that suits them all. This authenticity is what I fear gets lost for the models who make their whole life about fitness. There is no variation.

‘Sarah’ was recently made Australian ambassador for Adidas, holding fitness classes with American supermodel Karlie Kloss; and some comments on a Facebook post snarkily pointed out that ‘Sarah’ had last year said that she hated running and exercise. However, ‘Sarah’s’ public profile is now all about fitness. Instagram is a powerful visual aid in altering a perception (McLuhan in Potts & Murphie, 2003). Kaplan and Hainlein’s “Be honest” tip is perhaps at odds with this.

Melissa Gregg describes ‘presence bleed’ [in Hinton & Hjorth, 2013] which is where “boundaries between personal and professional identities no longer apply”. I do find that I have issues with ‘presence bleed’ and delineating my public and private profiles. My Facebook is linked to my Instagram, but not vice versa. This is a weak attempt at trying to get Instagram followers from people who find my profile on Facebook, while at the same time my Facebook is under an altered version of my name to stop people from Instagram finding it. Unlike the models aforementioned, I find it hard to ‘pick a face’ (if you will) to be true to. I want to be me in everything I do.

 

Adrian Miles described both print and network literacy. Through conducting this experiment, I could conclude that I am more ‘network literate’ than I thought; I am able to link things and distribute content over several platforms, although I am still having a lot of trouble understanding the more technical things such as ‘RSS’ and ‘HTML’.

This essay could have been written more generally, with less of a focus on my Instagram (in)activity and what I have observed there, though I viewed the reception of the agency pamphlet as timely in regards to essay fodder, as it has strong links to the content.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

  1. Gauntlett, David. Making Media Studies: The Creativity Turn in Media and Communications Studies. New York: Peter Lang, 2015. Print. (Read p. 7-12)

 

  1. Hinton, Sam, and Larissa Hjorth. Understanding Social Media. London, United Kingdom: Sage Publications, 2013. Print.

 

  1. Kaplan Andreas, and Haenlein Michael. “Users of the World, Unite! The Challenges and Opportunities of Social Media.” Business Horizons 53.1 2010. p. 59-68 Web.

 

  1. Lawrence, Katie, ‘SOCIAL MEDIA BOOKLET 2017’, Chadwick Models, Darlinghurst NSW, 2017.

 

  1. Miles, Adrian. “Network Literacy: The New Path to Knowledge [online]”. Screen Education, 2007. 45, 24-30. Print.

 

  1. Murphie, Andrew and Potts, John Culture and Technology. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003. Print. 11-38

Analysis 2

I often don’t put much thought into the effort behind maintaining an online media presence. I think this is why I stay off Instagram aside from to check a few people; I grow jealous that I can’t attain the same following as others can and so I

Effective Instagram use involves hashtags, timing, careful curation of content and consideration of your publics/ audiences, just like any Public Relations message (as I learn studying that discipline). The problem on that is that I don’t have a strong personal brand – my interests and activities, and therefore what I post, are so widely varying that it’s hard to find an aesthetic that suits them all. People who can get away with this kind of posting are those mega-celebrities who don’t care whether they have followers or not; I suppose.

I decided to take the following approach to my using Instagram, from what I have observed: I post a photo making sure that it sorta-kinda fits in with the overall appearance of my most recent 10 photos [pacing them like this I can slowly change my look over time without shocking anyone], hashtag it as much as possible, and don’t define what I do in my Bio, so that people follow me because of my face and name and to solve the mystery – the confusing mystery – of exactly who I am and what I do. #AirOfMystique

Analysis – Evidence #notagoodpickupline

Over the last week, every night I wrote a blog post detailing my media use for the previous day. I noticed some patterns evolving in my media use; that I prefer to do most of it on my phone, that most media I use is accessible on (or only on) my phone, and that I have a 3:2 ratio for my app use morning and evening. In the morning I use Facebook, Snapchat and YouTube without fail; at night before bed I tend towards Pinterest and YouTube.

I do use Snapchat and Facebook at bedtime too, but I use them more continuously throughout the day than I do YouTube or Pinterest.

I used iMessage and Facebook Messenger very frequently in my day-to-day life, sometimes even talking to the same person via text and Messenger; but carrying on two different lines of conversation. I use Safari a lot because I am always curious about something, it’s very easy to flick open a browser window in my phone to look something up if I’m out and about or can’t be bothered to open my laptop or need to know something quickly. However, I do wildly prefer a laptop interface when using Google Chrome or Safari. YouTube I don’t like as much on iPhone because you can’t move to a different tab or else your audio/visual content shuts off. On laptop I can operate on different tabs and windows whilst playing a YouTube video in the background which is more convenient.

It was difficult to find new things to write about every day; I did a lot of grumbling about using Google Docs for an assignment, and tried to focus on different apps’ usages on different days. I found I had more success with this approach when trying to flesh out a post.

I had to set an alarm to go off nightly to remind me to write and post a blog entry prior to 12am, which failed after day 3 or 4. I wrote directly into WordPress, banged out the post in 10-15 minutes and linked it to my Google Doc as soon as I had finished it; set on public.

Media Use day 6 or 7

So! We are here!

On Sunday morning I woke up and realised that I had forgotten to set an alarm for work, but no matter because I woke up 20 minutes early anyway. Back to Facebook and Snapchat and YouTube this morning to check what’s going on.

During and after breakfast I used Google Drive and Facebook Messenger to cram in work on an assignment, and on the way to work I used iBooks to continue reading the downloaded draft of Midnight Sun. I read it under the desk at work for a while before using the company websites to search for dresses for a customer who rang up exactly a minute before the official opening time (grr). Sometimes we use our phones to Google dresses if we haven’t the faintest idea what they’re talking about.

Facebook also got used to post in a fan group for the brand I work at, stating that I was working in the outlet today so did anybody want me to hunt down old styles for them? This sometimes spikes revenue for the day. I used iMessage to respond to my aunt who wanted me to look for a pair of shoes in the shop next door to me.

In the evening I went on Instagram but I still haven’t found anything this week that I feel like posting. I did however find a few images I liked, and curate them in my Saved folder on Instagram so I can pick them and repost them to my page when I have an appropriate situation. I was particularly taken by a photo of Miss Piggy (yes the Muppet) reclining on a tufted bed in a feather robe, originally posted by @lady_petrova.

I went on Pinterest in the evening and DuoLingo as I did stretches before bed. I was up until 1am working on an assignment using Google Docs and Facebook Messenger.

I used Facebook Messenger to create a group chat with some friends to discuss a present for my best friend’s 21st. I also used it to rejig postponed plans with a friend to go see Beauty and the Beast.

 

Media Use Day 6? 7?

Okay so here’s lucky that I remembered to write the post again. I had an alarm set on my phone for half the week but girl’s busy, ya know? I use the Alarm system on my iPhone, although once I did use a Sleep Cycle app to track what times I should go to sleep to make getting up easier. I have lifelong sleep issues.

Okay soo, on Saturday morning I woke up late and halfheartedly checked Facebook and YouTube while exercising. I do this mainly out of habit and because I follow a few people and channels on those apps whom I know will have posted new content overnight.

I went to work from 10am-6pm (On a Saturday yes #joy) and I used Snapchat several times throughout my shift, mainly to perk myself up, to communicate rants about frustrating customers, and to have a bit of fun. I also used iBooks, the app, again, while eating breakfast, travelling to and from work, and during my shift when I was bored. I’m just obsessed with this Midnight Sun draft. I wish Meyer would release a finished copy.

I used my employer’s websites and email systems to search for garments for customers during the day. At night I went to my ex’s house for a Free House, except somehow I ended up being the only guest that showed up. So I hung out with him and his little sister…just like old times. As a way to find an outlet for my awkward feeling of this at one point, I opened my phone and scrolled through Facebook, iMessage, Snapchat and my camera roll, with the aim of looking and feeling busy.

Late at night, just before bed, I was on YouTube and Pinterest again searching for nice things to look at and listen to in order to ward off anxiety that usually hits before bedtime. That’s the reason I used social media around bedtime. I find it helps to draw me back into the real world with people in it, rather than my over-active imagination and projections. I’m so used to having panic attacks before bed that I automatically use the remedy before the malady.

I’ve been using Google Docs and Library to work on an assignment still, and I’ve been talking to my group mates for the assignment on Facebook Messenger all day.

Media Use Day 4

Thursday I woke up and did my usual rounds on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube to see what was new. I’m exhausted and don’t want to provoke my previous migraine any further so I kept the light setting low on my phone, which I used to do this. I use my phone in the morning (unlike YouTuber Trisha Paytas who takes her laptop into bed) because it’s more portable and I can use it while doing pilates exercises.

Snapchat held some news for me this morning. A woman I follow posted a photo captioned ‘horrible what happened in London’ and this led me to use the News app to find out about a horrible terrorist attack in London, UK. An old classmate who recently moved home to England for a year-long internship used the Facebook feature ‘Mark as Safe’ to inform her Facebook friends that she had not been harmed in the Westminster attack. I think this feature is a brilliant idea due to the amount of people on Facebook worldwide and a very wholesome use of social media.

I was arrested shortly into beginning some assignment work on RMIT Library database and Google Docs by the recurrence of hazy vision due to migraine, so I sat for a couple of hours using my iPhone to play the YouTube app to play calming and relaxing content; which is as close as I come to having a nap.

Out of a desire to see photos of the actor Robert Pattinson in his younger, more clean-shaven days, I spent time that evening on Google Images and the Pinterest app on my iPhone. This was primarily to observe his beauty and his portrayal of J.K. Rowling’s wizard wonder Cedric Diggory and Stephenie Meyer’s vampire valentine Edward Cullen. It was also because I was trawling Wikipedia and other blogs such as http://www.palassiter.com to read fanfiction on Edward’s perspective of Twilight drawn from Meyer’s unfinished draft titled Midnight Sun.

Meyer is a writer I quite like both in her manner of writing and the emotions her stories stir in me; like Jane Austen. I was on a bit of a research bender researching the Fitzwilliam Darcys and Edward Cullens and Cedric Diggorys of the literary world, plus looking at photos on Pinterest of 1800s men in order to jumpstart plot lines for some ideas floating in my head. I use Pinterest to plot many aspects of my life, from outfits and vintage clothing I aspire to recreate, to collecting historical photos and artefacts to use to authenticate my fiction writing.

 

I did not sleep that night (as I write this the day after, my eyes are burning with fatigue) so I again used the YouTube app to play soporific ASMR videos.

O’er ‘n’ out.

Media Use Day 3

On Wednesday my media use was again limited. I was home sick from uni with a migraine and bad vision while trying to complete an assignment, so the following media use was curtailed from what it could have been:

In the morning I checked Facebook, Instagram and YouTube when I woke up to check on current affairs and put on a video to play while I did some exercise. After that I continued using the YouTube app to watch a movie while I made breakfast, then I logged onto my computer to use the RMIT library database and access my student emails. I went onto Snapchat a few times whenever someone sent me a photo. Whenever I send Snapchats I use my iPhone 6 and usually take a new photo each time rather than upload from my camera roll.

Later in the day I used the Facebook Messenger app to whinge with some classmates about an assignment. This is a form of catharsis as it helps to know other people are going through the same thing and think the same way about aspects of a course we are having issues with. It’s not Networked Media, don’t worry.

Late at night before bed, I remembered to make a Facebook post for my friend’s 20th birthday (I had rung her when I woke up but had yet to do the customary embarrassing post on social media). I chose 24 mainly less-than-flattering photos of my friend and posted them with a short message. I chose photos that she had sent me from Snapchat that I screenshot, photos I had taken on my phone and photos other people had sent to me of her. I was careful in my curation of these photos; not to include any of her tattoos or any really inappropriate photos in order to protect her reputation and protect her from the disapproval of anti-tattoo parents!

Media Use Day 2

On Tuesday, my media use was quite boring because I was stressed about a different assignment. I did the usual quick rounds on social media such as Facebook and Instagram, but did not spend a very long time during the day going through the sites. I checked every now and then in a quiet moment. I practised my Italian, German and Dutch language skills on the DuoLingo app, and used the YouTube app to play a video to go to sleep on.

I considered uploading a photo to Instagram but I decided against it because I couldn’t find a nice enough photo. I tagged my Nonna on Facebook in a video about funny goats. In the middle of the night I used a site on my laptop on Google Chrome and began streaming Aladdin (1992) – and reminded myself that I really want to see the musical when it comes to Melbourne!

It was a quiet day for authoring so I didn’t really post any new content aside from using WordPress in my Networked Media class.

I tagged my Nonna on the funny goats Facebook video because I wanted her to see them; I often tag her in videos because she thinks they’re as funny as I do. And because I spend a lot of time with her, and she knows how to use social media, I often connect with her over it. My other grandparents don’t really enter the online sphere so I connect with them in other ways.

I check Facebook and Instagram generally to see what a certain few people are up to and to leave comments supporting them. Yesterday someone strongly disagreed with a comment I left on another friend’s post and I debated whether or not to reply. I ended up not replying because I decided it wasn’t worth it and that the intended recipient had Liked and responded to my comment and knew what I meant.

YouTube videos are things that I rely upon to help me relax; a particular brand of video I find very beneficial to send me to sleep and they are quite addictive so I sometimes go through binge periods. One of my favourite content creator posted a new video yesterday so I watched it before and after I watched Aladdin.