I take dressing up very seriously. This is likely attributed to my immaculate attention to detail in combination with a fragile sense, lacking just enough shame to make you feel like this German compound noun (you’re welcome). If you weren’t raised in Los Angeles, you may be better acquainted with the term “obsessive-compulsive disorder” to describe such a personality, but alas, I’m from LA and I’m so unique that I’m just like everyone else.
Disclaimer: You’re about to get to know me really well. This could result in two possible outcomes. I’m actually not sure if one is more positive than the other, but the good news is that my fear of social-internet-shame is pretty low, despite keeping my non-CSMT twitter account private. Don’t worry F/friends, this is only because I am employed and want to keep it that way!
After reading this post, you may feel slightly uncomfortable, similar to the time the NYU security guard in Kimmel WAY over shared about his past employment history when you were just trying to avoid using the Washington Square Park portal potty during Summer. In which case, you will learn what my face looks like and never sit next me to in class. I will be saddened by my self-inflicted alienation, but I’ll live. Besides I’m a senior at NYU, when my peers act like I’m the creature from the black lagoon I find it to be kinda like an “omg I made it!” moment.
Conversely, you may feel like “This girl is like an IRL Liz Lemon but infinitely better (looking) and REAL!” Thanks guys. I promise it’s not hard to act like you were socialized by two ESL students, and feel free to absorb my socially destructive ways via osmosis of my class twitter account (@np879_csmt), former and potential blog posts, and effortless grace in class. I wanna be your latent, gone weak, to strong tie! But you know, I just put that lil’ disclaimer here because I’m polite. ❤
So it’s settled. You can go shave your back now if you don’t think I’m a cool mom.
END SCENE. But seriously, that long-winded description wasn’t just because I have such a way with words and need a lot of attention. This is what my taste performance looks like on both Facebook and Twitter. I find Liu’s four types of taste performances listed in his article Social Network Profiles as Taste Performances to be very limiting, because I think my online taste performance is both “theatrical” and “prestige”. Like Liu describes prestige taste statements, “profiles that stated prestige were often very coherent (e.g., A1, A2), but never less than moderately coherent (e.g. C2). The vast majority of prestige taste statements either identified with the ‘popular culture’ (e.g., A1) or with a subculture (e.g., A2),” I apply a theatrical reasoning to my prestige, like identifying with popular culture, for the sake of highlighting sexism or objectification, and using “coherence” as a tool for satire. With the example of my tweet, if there is validity to Mitt Romney’s comment suggesting that he needed to reach out to women’s groups in order to find qualified female employees and got binders full in return, my new goal is to be in a binder with Beyoncé because I admire her the most and so do a few others.
I knew that differentiating (see what I did there?) my online identity was something I could do very easily, but at what cost? Like I mentioned earlier, I’m really great at impressions (thank you MAP courses), but I feel safe knowing my “audience” vis-à-vis Marwick and boyd’s I Tweet Honestly, I Tweet Passionately: Twitter Users, Context Collapse, and the Imagined Audience understands my “performance”, so to speak. Ironically, my “nightmare audience” that Marwick and boyd describe as, “the opposite of the ideal reader, and may limit personal discourse on Twitter, since the lowest-common-denominator philosophy of sharing limits users to topics that are safe for all possible readers” (12-13) is the exact person I aim to mock with my taste performance. Though I don’t have very many Friends from high school (shut up and this IS NOT WHY I CHOSE NYU, OMG) there are still some lurkers, which concerned me for this project. Our Friendship status wasn’t enough to be a deal breaker (depleting me of integrity), as I was also counting on them to provide the majority of data/entertainment.
Since I never have a profile picture of me smiling and seeming “lady-like”, my first step was to upload a new picture that clearly displayed what my face looks like. With fortuitous timing, someone stole my NYU ID card in Bobst so I had to retake my picture. I chose this picture for my foray into “respectable-lady facebook-user” identity. (I wasn’t kidding re: ESL socialization).
My profile picture got so many likes so quickly, I nearly blew my own cover and came really close to asking my roommate to confirm this photo looks like me. In the process of this probably very obviously Freudian panic (omg people are giving me complements, to the bomb shelter!) I got a text from, oh, somebody that I used to know? I haven’t heard from this person in a considerable amount of time, though now he wanted to know if I was coming home to LA for Thanksgiving break.
I took this to the next level. Not only am I able to look like Sarah Palin in low quality ID photos, but I am also ~taken, y’all.
Some friends used technological affordances to either try or bust me on my typical taste performance, or to offer me a kindly mannered, virtual high-five. I noticed that the only people who commented on my relationship status change were women, and a measly four guys (1 latent tie, 3 strong ties, in fact one of them is my business partner) liked the change. Despite receiving several texts, bbms, phone calls, and voicemails from friends, they were all still from women.
My third step was to upload another new picture. I would say the addition of this photo to my profile was the crescendo of my participant observation. More women commented on the picture, but 15 out of 43 “likes” came from male F/friends!
After this, my advertisements were nothing short of wedding planning, how to become a savvy consumer when providing for a family, and toys that are akin to raising an infant. #Rough. The single advertisement hinting, while not explicitly endorsing, free, safe, premarital (literally!) sex was the saving grace to my sanity.
I uploaded one final picture that was the most “gratuitous” in my opinion, though this picture received the least amount of likes or comments, and I’ve gotten no additional inquiries about my relationship status.
I think I’ve reached multiple dead ends with my experiment. Weber and Mitchell explain in Imagining, Keyboarding, and Posting Identities: Young People and New Media Technologies, “… like youth identities, young people’s own digital productions facilitate a blending of media, genres, and experimentations, modifications, and reiterations …” (27). My initial fear was that my F/friends would take my new transformation at face value, and although I can tell everyone with the click of a button that it’s still me, I’m still single, and I still prefer posing with a double chin than a smile, the photos I’ve uploaded made some sort of impression, whether this is positive or negative. Moreover, I am a girl from California, and though neither of these factors can anchor my identity, the process by which my “authenticity” can be measured is by comparing images, old and new.