I mean, if you’re gonna talk about celebrities on social media, you’ve got to talk about Kim Kardashian, right? She like basically OWNS Twitter. Well, maybe not quite…but there are definitely millions of other people using social networking everyday. Sites like Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr allow these people to maintain and construct various relationships, and also allow their users to define themselves. Social networking is a great way for people to portray whatever identity they choose, whether that be one that is authentic or prestigious, it paves the way for freedom in performativity. Every profile has its own example of performativity, however celebrity profiles can be useful tools for examining just how people can display any version of themselves online. One celebrity in particular who has an extremely prominent social media presence is none other than…
Kim Kardashian. (Photo: Twitter) #Selfie!
Kim Kardashian makes an impact in the sphere of social networking because she puts such a noticeable effort into her profiles across sites. She has both a Facebook page and a Twitter page for example, and is extremely active on both. It is important to look at both in order to see how together, they convey just how her identity is performed on the Internet. It’s funny how we do not know Kim Kardashian personally, however so many people feel like they do largely due to her identity performativity on both Facebook and Twitter. Her social media presence breaks down that wall, letting us have a glimpse into her thoughts, everyday activities and ultimately, her personal life. Through her usage of social media, we can see the post-structuralist theories of identity, where all identities online and offline are performed, at play.
Hugo Liu sheds light on some ways we can grapple with the idea of identity performance on social networking site. Liu defines four types of taste statements that can be made when creating and maintaining a profile. He argues the first to be a Prestige Statement, which is when a person is presenting the best side of themselves and trying to garner some type of respect. It can be seen as “very coherent” (Liu). The second is Differentiation, which is when a person is showing off their uniqueness and individuality. The third is Authenticity, which can be defined as someone who is trying to appear like the real version of themselves, while the last is Theatrical Persona, meaning when someone is clearly playing a character or acting out a role (Liu). Kim Kardashian’s profile appears to be that of a Prestige Statement because she has over 16 million followers, and has a very staged and professional photograph as her profile picture. She puts up photos of herself constantly, and they all just happen to be extremely flattering photos that have been clearly handpicked in order to show off her positive attributes. She also uses many trending hashtags, which shows that she is up with the trends, such as #throwbackthursday and #10ReasonsWhyYouCantSleep.
She also seems to capitalize words to show how she is grammatically conscious as well. All of these various traits displayed on her Twitter profile communicate how she is performing a prestigious identity. As Sandra Weber and Claudia Mitchell would point out in their article “Imaging, Keyboarding, and Posting Identities”, that you perform your own identity through your own actions. Kimmy K is definitely performing through posting pictures of how she’s casually “lounging” in sweatpants, when really she might have an agenda to impress her followers with her physique, perhaps. Mirror pic, anyone??
Because as Alice E. Marwick and Danah Boyd point out in their article, “I Tweet Honestly, I Tweet Passionately”, “people tend to present themselves in fixed, singular, and self-conscious ways” (Marwick & Boyd 2). Here, she is definitely self-conscious of how she is appearing to her imagined audience.
This persona also carries over to her Facebook profile, as much of the content is very similar. It still seems to be making a Prestige Statement of identity as well, because of her personal advertisements for Kardashian Kollection as soon as you open the page.
She actually even has the same profile picture on her Facebook that she has on her Twitter account. Again, she has over 11 million “likes” on Facebook, which definitely puts her popularity on display. Erving Goffman helps us to understand Ms. Kardashian’s performance of identity through his theory of the Presentation of the Self. He points out that we’re constantly updating our identity through performance by gathering information. Kim Kardashian updates the layouts of her Twitter and Facebook pages frequently. This is an example of performativity because she is keeping up with aesthetic trends and her “look” as a celebrity, which therefore manifests itself by ways of her social media layouts. She is also updating her profiles by tweeting or facebooking constantly as a way to gather and reveal information to her imagined audiences.
Kim Kardashian has not only become famous for being famous, but she’s also become famous for being such a huge presence on social media. She maintains her image by tweeting and facebooking about her interests, self-promotion and avoiding any controversial issues. She carefully selects a flattering profile photo and uses a lot of exclamation points to highlight her personality. She employs the usage of retweeting, posting images and linking websites. These are all various cues and affordances in which we can communicate and perform our identities through social media networking, and let me tell you, Kim Kardashian has got it down to a science.