Internet Footprint – Week 9 Reflection

Posted: May 11, 2012 in Uncategorized

An interesting lecture about what we want others to perceive to be our identity which is self-mediated throughout our online interactions, how we interact online, what we post about ourselves, if we have an avatar or hidden identity, and so forth.

As I know from my own experience with social newtorking sites what people post about themselves is a performance, mainly computer-mediated but somestimes people forget the boundaries and worlds collide.

Computer-mediated communication (CMC) has long drawn the interest of academics from a variety of fields, such as Donna Harroway in Cyborgs Manifesto where she discusses how technology and how it has integrated with humans in every day life.

People have the capacity to express and strengthen a unique identity and this allows for fluid identity and interaction in virtual communities to release individuals from the rigidity associated with social identity in everyday life  “reverse some of the social structures, touting virtual experience and virtual community as ways for people to widen their horizons.” (Shafi 2005) such as exploring and expressing themselves as Phil a woman at night or Phyllis a man during the day, if they want remain anonymous.

However, personal or conflict interactions online can sometimes define relationships that interprets to real-life. The public nature of mediated breakups by Boyd provides detailed examples where public display of “in a relationship with”, and “no longer in a relationship” after the break-up and every action, so it’s only natural that people merge online and offline behaviour (Pascoe 2011).

Whether different types of relationships are real or just heightened by the online experience and could be misinterpreted by lack of physical cues without the real body and as less authentic as people perform and mask particular identities for particular audiences other than their own identity. This could result in misinterpretation of reality “an omnipresent danger that our mental maps will not match current reality.” (Harvey 1990)

For the community and patients, people with a health condition can use official (government or non-government organisations) and unofficial online websites anonymously for advice and shared experiences.  For instance, people with HIV use HIV/aidstribe in a virtual community where people with HIV aids are provided with health information and a forum for “self representation by individuals who are excluded from the public sphere.” (Nettleton, Burrows and O’Malley 2005). In contrast, the internet can aid vices with people who have addictive problems like Gambling where online gambling communities can provide anonymous use of gambling without interference from other people, government and legislative controls.  This ignores what is socially and morally acceptable in society. People can hide their identities so there is no judgement to their actions and belong to online gambling communities engaging online gambling and advice in such as Gambling Mojo Community and unrestricted by legislative controls of the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

Music consumers can access digitally created music like MP3’s for purchasing, downloading, sharing and listening online.  It often intermingles public and privately through social networking forums where people can share their music tastes at any time of the day or night regardless of geographical placement like in the comfort of your own home or in public using smart devices like an IPhone to set the scene and provide empowerment and quickly depending on the speed of your internet connection.

Social networking forums like Youtube and Facebook enable sharing between people who belong to virtual communities as part of a group or particular artist or genre. “Message boards like Myspace empowers fans to exchange news, information and recommendations – word of mouth is an important part of online communication.” (Laughey 2007)

Further to this, people can perform a particular identity and in virtual communities to suit the attitude of the music, for instance may dress and talk in a particular way. This empowers them to represent their tastes with “Music of different styles and on different formats is able to “get into” people’s thoughts and feelings to such an extent that it aids identity formation.”  (Laughey 2007)



Harvey, D, 1990. The Condition of the Post Modernity. 1st ed. London: Routledge.

Laughey, D. 2007. Music Media in Young People’s Everyday Lives. In Music, Sound and Multimedia: From the Live to the Virtual. Retrieved from

Nettleton S, Burrows R and O’Malley L, 2005. The mundane realities of the everyday use of the internet for health, and their consequences for media convergence. Sociology of Health & Illness 2005, ISSN 0141-9889, pp. 972-992.

Pacoe, C. 2011. Digital Youth Research: Kids’ Informal Learning with Digital Media: Final Report: Intimacy. Berkeley

Shafi. 2005. Can a virtual community be any different from the experience of a real community, WordPress


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