Performing and Interpreting Identity
This one-year cyber-ethnography examines identity presentations and interpretations of 346 Facebook users. The social–psychological theoretical framework used drew specifically from symbolic interaction, Goffman’s performance of self, and schema theory. Generally, Facebookers sought social acceptance with their presentations. Primary findings indicate that the Facebookers present over-simplified imagery to reduce ambiguity and align with specific social groups. This study asked Facebookers to respond to strangers’ Facebook profiles, and the responses showed that due to the glut of identity-related information on the site, interpretations are heavily reliant on schemas. Online interview participants indicated several basic categories of identity performance that were used to assess others. Furthermore, online interview participants felt confident giving detailed descriptions of strangers’ personalities based on only a few minutes of viewing their profiles.This article examines the role the images – specifically uploaded photos – play in online identity. Academics often hear grumblings from colleagues about college students using Facebook during class. It is often said that Facebook is largely a waste of time and outsider impressions of the site can be, thusly, quite negative. When coupled with the periodic headlines about some user posting information or images about illegal or lewd activity (underage drinking is a common example), these negative impressions of the site and its users only become more entrenched. This article is a part of an ongoing chain of research focusing on the ‘reasons’ for these presentation choices. This work specifically focuses on identity goals and images of Facebookers.