Do We Represent or Present?

When I first heard this question, I really had to think of an answer. I really didn’t know the difference between representation or presentation when it came to a person. After reading Jill Walker Rettberg’s article it really opened my eyes on how people use social media and how they portray themselves in the process. Below are definitions of representation and presentation as used in this article.

Rettberg defines representation as:

An object, a sign that is seen as constructed in some way, and that stands instead of an object to which it refers.

Things can be represented by sounds, word, images, and objects. Rettberg also brought up Stuart Hall’s book Representation, describing that people believe that representation can only be of three things: reflective, intentional and constructive. These representations can be also be interpreted differently depending on what platform they are posted on. An example of this could be if a picture posted privately to a social media account or if a picture was posted on a public platform like a newspaper.

Rettberg also went on to say that every representation has connotations linked to it, that is, ideas or meanings that are laced within certain aspects of a picture.

Rettberg also defined presentation as:

An act, something a person does … Allows us to analyse the way that the person acts to present themselves.

I also looked at this Huffington Post article and it got me thinking of how these terms play a role in how individuals use social media. This article talked about how people want to portray their ideal self instead of how they actually are. I think that this could potentially be accurate because I know that I don’t portray all of my characteristics online and I usually only highlight a few characteristics that I like. Specifically, the article went on to say that one’s actual self is their actual characteristics and that one’s ideal self is what a person feels that the should be.

I know for me, that I tend to sugar-coat my life when it comes to posting online, especially when it’s posted publicly. I have noticed that when I post onto places like Facebook, where I stay connected with my friends and family, that I am more open to posting different things about my life that maybe I’m not super happy about.

Now, looking at social media more closely (particularly at blogs) I have noticed that I’m more open in terms of my tone and different things that I talk about that I wouldn’t usually on other social media platforms like Facebook.

Personally, I think that I present myself on my blog, rather than represent myself. When most people see me they think that I’m quiet and shy, but online I represent myself as a talkative person that could joke with strangers. Now truthfully, I am talkative (people who know me know I don’t shut up) but having a blog to express myself and my identity has helped me show that side of my self more than I would have on other cases or in real life.

I don’t change who I am on social media. Sometimes I don’t talk about things that I don’t want to share to the world. Sometimes I find it easier to express how I really act and talk in my blogs.

What about you? Does social media change how you portray yourself?