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?


Social Media as Literature? Really?

When originally thinking of social media I thought of Twitter and I didn’t think that the things that are usually posted on there are anywhere near literature-worthy (yes, I’m thinking about all the memes). But reading M.W. Jacobs article made me think.

Jacobs talked about how with social media being so prominent in people’s life, the way in which they are commonly writing is changing. Instead of writing long pieces of work, people are now moving away from the Modernist way of doing things and are paving their own path in the writing world- creating a Minimalist literature.

Jacobs went on to make readers ponder if minimalist poetry could somehow exist, since people today are minimizing the amount of words that they use on social media outlets like twitter and with how they text. Even though people have a decent amount of characters to get their points across ranging from 160 characters to text and 140 characters to tweet, Jacobs goes on to show that they don’t use as much.

Currently, there are many online and social media platforms that have made users’ writing content even shorter. Take Vine for example, when it was still a thing, Vine moved away from writing and used videos instead, but only six second videos.

But it isn’t only social media platforms that are minimizing, advertisements are, too. The current writing generation seems to put less and less words into each post, using concise words to get their point across in a short amount of time.

Being that social media postings are containing less and less words, I don’t believe that they should be considered literary work. I think that social media has allowed writers to successfully get their point across quickly and consistently, but I’m not sure if they portray the same meaning out of the work to their readers as they could have if they had written longer pieces. Specifically, I am thinking of Twitter. They have limited characters that their users could use for each of their posts. In another college class, Web Content Writing, there was an exercise that we had to do where we had to make a passage from a Faulkner book and cut it down 30-50%. Now, to those of us who use Twitter, think that we can easily cut words out to make things more concise, but when we do that we lose the meaning.

I think that social media platforms like Twitter and Vine should not be considered a literary work, but I do think that other social media platforms, like Facebook and blog platforms, that allow people to write as much as they want should be considered literary work, depending on what kind of content they put out. If it’s meaningful or portrays stories or events, I think that they should be considered literary work, but if it’s just Facebook rants I don’t think that should be classified as literary work.

There’s a line between what should be literary work and what shouldn’t and I personally think that it has to do with the content that is put on each social media platform.

What do you think? What is the line that separates literary work from non-literary work?