Cyberculting

A blog about Cyberculture and ICTs.

Posts Tagged ‘MySpace’

The little things give you away

Posted by candacewhitehead on August 18, 2008

In Real Life (IRL) you are able to create a first impression in a number of ways. You market yourself in whichever way you choose to, with an almost unlimited range of options.

Your Gucci handbag and snappy, bad-tempered little dog screams “poppie” – plastic, Barbie-doll. Rocking up on your first day of work at a law firm wearing flip-flops and smelling like rum might see you out on the kerb. Everything from the scent that you wear to the timbre of your voice helps to create an overall impression which can win you a date or lose you a job.

Online, the ways in which you can create a first impression are severely limited. For the majority of chat sites, forums, and Instant Messengers you are limited to a nickname, a limited “About Me” section and an avatar. And in a world where first impressions are everything, these are all you have to go on.

Logging on to an online chat room aimed at “free-minded individuals” contained a character called “Horny_male_69”. Classy. I picture some sleazy, creepy guy hanging at his computer waiting for the most desperate female in the room to latch on to him, and logged off. The next chat room contained someone called “nuttygirl”, another person called “jacobzuma” (I hope our ANC president isn’t trying to pick up chicks online on while his corruption trial looms over his head) and yet another person called “angeljelly”. (Seriously, “angeljelly?”).

Each of these nicknames conjure up a particular image in our minds – and accompanied with this comes the all-important avatar.

And then there is the all important “About Me” section. It’s on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, on the majority of Forums I’ve visited, on dating sites and some chat rooms. I’ve taken profiles from an online dating site, and will examine them, for interest’s sake.

wotsup my name’s nic and i love supermoto.i love going 4 jol wid da boys and jus having an awsum time all the time.yeah,i live in south africa and no we dont go 2 school on a frigging elephant u dumbass.

Wotsup? Wid? What is that? Awsum? Oooh he’s a South African, that’s nice. “And no we don’t go 2 school on a frigging elephant u dumbass”?! Way to make a “frigging” impression, mate. Call me stupid, cause that makes me feel sexy. Gar. Learn some spelling and grammar, moron.

I’m a combat veteran in the U.S. Army. Soon to be a civilian again. I enjoy reading and writing poetry. I’m an amateur magician and will be going pro once i’m out of the army. I’m from Oklahoma but will be moving to Paris, France in about 5 months.

Reading between the lines here (and read it as a woman): combat veteran – possibly slightly broken, will need fixing. We love fixing things. Enjoy reading and writing poetry – wow, sensitive. Amateur magician? He loves children! And Paris? I’m sold. Will you marry me?

Which one would you most likely send a message to? (And ignore my biased little assessments of each) My point is that online, bad grammar and bad spelling can be as much of a deterrent as body odour or bad teeth. Language is one of the prime methods through which we can identify ourselves, but it’s one thing to say something stupid, and quite another to have it recorded for leagues of mean bloggers to criticise.

I mentioned one’s avatar as being one of the most important means of identifying one’s self, and ultimately a logo to your personal brand, but I think I shall leave that discussion to my next post.

And in the meantime, I think I’m going to change my forum nickname. I think I’ve grown out of mine.

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I love myself

Posted by candacewhitehead on July 24, 2008

Yes, I know it’s late, and I’ve been a very bad blogger. But I have returned from my hiatus, and am back!

 

In our lecture today, our lecturer used the term “digital narcissism”, which has become a huge part of not only cyberculture, but day-to-day culture too.

 

I have a Facebook page, a MySpace page and a Twitter account, just for starters. Three things that are all about me. Photos of me, notes written by me, what I did for the weekend, what I’m thinking, what I’m feeling. All about ME. Not you, not Paris Hilton or Brangelina. My friends can write on my wall about how great I am (I delete the posts that say I’m a loser or whatever), they can all rave about something cool that we did together. I’m a celebrity.

 

YouTube’s slogan is “Broadcast Yourself”, as Andrew Keen, author of “The Cult of the Amateur” points out. And, as he writes, the new thing on YouTube is people broadcasting themselves watching other people on YouTube broadcasting themselves and… well, it’s potentially endless, really. And not very exciting.

 

Think about the abundance of people with webcams, who stream their daily activities (pornographic or otherwise) twenty four hours a day. I’ve never been one for watching somebody paint their toenails, but people do. Voyeuristic types feed other people’s narcissism.

 

Keen, it appears, has decided that the mere idea that anyone can change the face of media by publishing their thoughts is destroying our culture. According an article published on the Guardian.co.uk, Enough!, Keen feels that we don’t need the opinions of the majority of the people online, and that it destroys the credibility and the professionalism of journalism and the media. Ironically, of course, he writes this on his blog.  

 

He does, however, have a good point: people would rather broadcast themselves rather than listen to what other people have to say. I do not think this is restricted to digital narcissism, however. Many people are like that – listen to yourself speaking in conversation and see how many instances there are a day where you change the subject or try to interrupt to make yourself heard. It’s human nature.

 

However, in a world where people Google themselves to see what’s been written about them, and where over 90 million people have a Facebook page as effectively shrines to themselves, it’s a lot easier, and a lot more acceptable, to be a lot more narcissistic.

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