tattoo tuesdays and wasted wednesdays: my new facebook identity

This week I turned my Facebook into a fakebook. When I started thinking about a few drastic changes I could make, I went on timeline and clicked on the life events tab to get an idea or two.

So first things first: The real me on Facebook. In order for the changes I made to make sense, I might need to explain this briefly.

I am someone who is aware, for the most part, of who their audience is on Facebook.

I do the usual mobile uploads, you know the ones: “Washington Square Park in fall” “WSP when it snows/rains/is windy etc”, the cliche picture of the Starbucks red holiday cup, pictures of food, (too many) pictures of the empire state building, skylines, sunsets, the rare fancy looking overpriced instagrammed cocktail, out airplane windows on the tarmac at the airport, photos of ridiculous looking pets, animals, and oh beaches too. Nothing too out of the ordinary.

Facebook statuses are something I don’t usually do, which now that i think about it, is probably also why it took a social media class that required tweeting every week for me to get a twitter account.

Things like drunk status postings and mass photo uploads from nights out of half blurry images have never really been quite my style. In short, for me this just means the photos where I had my drink but clearly lost my two-step can stay on my camera for the time being. (Ok, fine. maybe a few photos for fun ). That being said, I am also someone who gets kind of a kick out of posting weird things, slightly inappropriate ecards, relatable whatshouldwecallme posts, pictures of cats, or just really funny looking photos of my friends or myself.

I guess I could have just summed that all up by saying for the most part, I play it relatively safe on Facebook.

Ok so enough of that. Now for the changes I made on Facebook this week.

My new tattoo

I updated my status to “INKed”, and then clicked on life events and added “got a tattoo”. Then, in an effort to make this change slightly more drastic, I had my roommate put a temporary tattoo of a studded black bow on my lower back so that I could upload a picture of my new ink.

If there were ever a prime example of Boyd’s concept of context collapse, this post would definitely be in the running for the top five. I woke up the next morning to comments from a friend, my younger sister, someone I don’t even know, my BOSS, and my roommate’s mother.

Let the media multiplexity begin!

Ironically this post got more of a response via other forms of media than it did on Facebook. Text messages, a phone call, and an email. My roommate also got a call from her mother the next morning asking her if I was serious and that she only put “i like it” at the end of her comment because she felt bad for me.

Now what I haven’t said yet is how I felt before and after making this change. This was a serious test to my “i don’t care what other people think about me” claim. Before I uploaded this status and photo, I was walking around my apartment ranting on about how I didn’t care if other people judged me, acting like it was all fun and games and that it was no big deal. My excitement disappeared about as quickly as my post uploaded. It wasn’t until after I hit the upload button that I realized I couldn’t respond with a “lolz jk” sort of thing. My normal taste statements on Facebook work to create what Lui identifies as a theatrical persona. In my case, it is a theatrical persona that exudes this ridiculous jokester/goofy/weirdo image of someone who half the time thinks she’s twice as funny than she really is but can still occasionally make people laugh.

The only thoughts going through my mind after I posted it were how I wanted to tell all of the people closest to me that it was a joke and explain that I was doing it for class. Well that and “wait.. are these people liking this because they actually think I got a tattoo or because they know its too ridiculous to be true” crossed my mind a few times.

After Tuesday’s tattoo debut, I uploaded a status about being drunk on a Wedneday even though I had a presentation Thursday morning. This got “liked” by six of the most random people I am friends with on Facebook. I mean I’m talking about people I haven’t seen or even talked to in years and people who normally never like or comment on anything I post. The weakest of my weak ties.

Thursday morning at around 7am I woke up and wrote another status about how the best way to start the day was with a little gym, tanning, and laundry.

Note: 1) I made this status when I was sitting on the bus before the sun was up, angry at myself for signing up for such an early morning workout class (something I usually never do) 2) Tanning. Also something I would never do. If there is one thing I can do faster than anyone else I know, its sunburn. Its almost a talent at this point. In fact, about a third of what I “like” on Facebook are things like “The Skin Cancer Foundation” and “sunscreen” and other random sun protection items.

Ads for The Jersey Shore, egg donation needed, live above the influence, and crocs were on the side of my screen as of this morning. Just for kicks I “liked” crocs to keep the whole changing my profile tastes project up.

Now here is where I might have failed definitely failed in my attempt to perform a networked self according to Papacharissi. While the tattoo alone may have been believable, the combination of my multiple drunk statuses, changing my default to a photo from a night out, talking about going tanning, uploading photos very unlike “me” and being happy about working out at the crack of dawn, well they don’t exactly craft these “polysemic presentations that make sense” to my diverse range people in my Facebook network. In fact, the people my Facebook posts and photo uploads over the past week made the most sense to (got liked by/commented on)… were people who barely know me at all.

And just to finish off with one last “drastic” change on my Facebook page, I added added the “Which Nickelback song are you” app, took the quiz, and then clicked the “publish results to my timeline” button. That was …painful.



  1. First of all, I have to commend you on your “INKed” status, because it is very realistic looking and very believable (I never would have had the balls to do that). What I find most interesting about this status is the people who liked and commented on it. As you said, “I woke up the next morning to comments from a friend, my younger sister, someone I don’t even know, my BOSS, and my roommate’s mother.” What an extreme case of media multiplexity. Did this make you regret being friends with them on Facebook for the first place? If you had only been friends with say your friends, people your age, or classmates, there may have not been such a commotion about your new tattoo because it is more acceptable for people our age to get one (though I would hope not a bow tramp stamp). Because you were Facebook friends with your boss, he or she saw this status, which I would figure you hoped he or she wouldn’t have, and responded as you would imagine an older guiding figure would. Are you now regretting that you are friends with such people? For me, I keep my Facebook strictly friends or peers only (except for my mom but she has the rule that “you’re over 21 and out of my house, I don’t care anymore), so that this context collapse would not occur. I allow my grandparents, bosses, and other random family members to follow my Twitter and Instagram, thus I have to edit what I say or post on those social network sites. I find media multiplexity an interesting concept, and work hard to control it, and your Facebook experiment shows exactly why I would not want to be Facebook friends with my bosses, random family members, and friends’ parents.

  2. Your decision to use a tattoo as a drastic change from your typical online presence was genius! I think this ties in what we’ve already read about how users connect on social media from Donath and boyd, to gender identity/performance really well. The cultural connotation of having tattoos has definitely shifted from being associated with deviance, criminality, or a specific class status (this rage is wide), to become a less stigmatized image that promotes individual identity. I wonder if this has something to do with technology as well? Further, the technological affordance of an online “life timeline” that you were able to update to “INKed” (ps- LOL) really challenges the notion of your “individual freedom” or agency when it comes to connecting to your F/friends. I certainly don’t mean this to sound like “you shouldn’t get tattoos because your (Facebook) friends don’t approve of them” but more generally, to connect how socially acceptable it is to police women’s bodies in a place where it can persist and be replicated. Additionally, the technological affordances like smart phones can really excelerate the process!

    In terms of gender, I can’t think of any male equivalents to the ever shameful “tramp stamp.” I guess the less vulgar way to break down the shame embedded in “tramp stamp” is to connect ccultural expectations of morality (re: tattoos first association being with prison) and purity (premarital sex will kill you or your reputation ideology) to really highlight the deviant nature living in its definition. It’s interesting to consider how the placement of a tattoo on a woman’s body can be used to deny her of power, aka I too would not want to deal with the context collapse of my boss to knowing I have a tattoo on my lower back because we’re all aware of the connotation. Whether this implies promiscuity or lack of taste is debatable, but the fact that this could affect my professional identity garners a heavy “AVOID AVOID AVOID” feeling from me as well.

    Moreover, this could very easily be a less devastating reality than I just defined (hah), due to the conventionality of tattoos in society today, and how they certainly do promote individual agency. People could have been super bummed about your fictional bow tattoo because they know your personality well enough to think it was something very out of character for _you_ to do. The reason I loved this so much is because I felt like it was a very creative way to differentiate yourself from your typical taste performance. I would never get a tattoo due to my intense fear of needles so I couldn’t even consider an idea like this for this project (I also chose this prompt), but it would have been super successful (speaking to context collapse of course) :).

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