Miley Cyrus has used her online profiles as well as her ‘public’ star power to transform her image, and create something which is always ‘talked’, tweeted about, or shared. She has rocketed to ‘stardom’ by creating an ‘imperfect’ digital footprint. I would argue that she does things exclusively to be talked about and to appear as ‘edgy’.
When tasked with this weeks assignment, I did some digging and some reading, and came across an article by Madison Ganda which really spoke to me (probably in part because she referenced more than a few cool sociologist ideas including Cooley’s looking glass self, Goffman’s presentation of self, Skinner’s behaviourism, among many others that were new to me.)
Madison’s quantitative study was taking a closer look into the users of Facebook, Tumblr, and Instagram and the idea of performing oneself online, and how our posts and status updates can potentially work to ‘encourage’ the online self that we are sharing. Within this study are plenty of opportunities to discuss many different ideals such as Benedict Anderson’s theory of imagined communities- the idea that we imagine our selves to be a part of ‘communities’ we wish to participate in, when there is not in fact a physical space to participate in the community, as it is imagined. With this thinking in place, it is easy to ‘see’ people joining ‘online communities’ and gaining a ‘sense of belonging’ that people often yearn for. Social media communities ‘fill the void’ for those who wish to garner more ‘social cred‘. This is easily created in a space where, in Miley’s case, a picture can get you thousands of likes, additional followers, or millions of views.
We need to consider, when our ‘friend’ list balloons, what is the purpose of the account? Who is seeing our snippets? As danah boyd elicits – are our online profiles a public or private sphere? Is there such a thing as living a private life while online?
While the following video is a mash up that’s been done of Miley, (and has many highly inappropriate things in it), it also showcases someone who lives a very public/social life, and perhaps it also alludes to her struggle to regain some ‘private space’.
If we examine Miley a little closer, we can appreciate that she has lived in a very ‘public’ space from a very young age. If we consider that, while looking at the increasing number of our children who are being placed in the public sphere before they are able to choose for themselves to do so, I question if we are in fact preparing our children for a life of ‘Miley’? Not in the famous sort of way, but perhaps in a way that we may be giving our babies access to a digital world they don’t know how to maneuver, and so we set them up to live their private lives in public spaces.
How do we determine what is developmentally appropriate for our kids? How do we ensure that they understand that the fragments they experience online is not nearly the sum of the whole? And how do we share this information information in a timely, age appropriate matter in order to prevent ‘the grass is greener’ complexes in our children- that may ultimately lead to depression and/or suicide?