Before studying Miley Cyrus’ social media presence, I decided to ask a few of my peers their impressions of Cyrus’ image on the web. Some were enthusiastic about Cyrus’ social media activity, stating that they loved to read her constant twitter updates and view pictures of her dog Lila. While others’ were turned off by her frequent tweets, feeling that her re-tweets and “photo pheeds” were rather excessive. NYU Junior, Noel Shipp, even went so far to state that Cyrus, “re-tweets to an extremely annoying extent.” However, regardless of whether people find it endearing or annoying, it is undeniable that Cyrus is an extremely active netizen. With over 9 million followers on twitter and 21 million likes on Facebook, there is no doubt that Cyrus holds a strong presence in the social media community.
With a buzzing Twitter account, and an extremely popular Facebook page, Cyrus’ social media presence has been the source of much controversy. In 2009 Cyrus first deleted her Twitter account at the request of her then boyfriend, now fiancé, Liam Hemsworth. Cyrus tweeted:
“FYI Liam doesn’t have a Twitter and he wants ME to delete mine with good reason. It wasn’t because my friend told me to. I stopped living for moments and started living for people” (ENSTARZ).
Cyrus later reactivated her account but ran into twitter trouble again early this year. In September 2012, Liam again was upset about Cyrus’ tweets regarding their relationship and requested that she delete her account for a second time. Cyrus declined his request claiming that her tweets had nothing to do with their relationship.
With all this controversy surrounding Cyrus’ relationship with Liam on twitter, it is clear that Cyrus’ is trying to convey an authentic image over twitter. She tweets not only about Liam, but also frequently tweets photos of her dog Lila, family and close friends. Cyrus additionally sends tweets directly to her inner circle, citing inside jokes to individuals in front of an audience of 9 million followers. Cyrus’ twitter account in some ways appears to provide an inside look into her life.
In addition to her tweets regarding her personal life, Cyrus also constantly uses misspelled words, lower case letters and many exclamation points. All of these characteristics, Hugo Liu explains, express an authentic taste component. Liu states an authentic profile strives to be, “associated with a relaxed style and the display of slight imperfection” (Liu). Cyrus wants her followers to feel as though they are seeing the “real” her through her tweets, and that she is not forcing a persona. By using relaxed grammar and language Cyrus gives off the vibe that she is putting little thought or time into her tweets.
However, while the style (and some of the content) of Cyrus’ tweets appears to be genuine Cyrus is simultaneously constantly promoting herself through twitter. Cyrus, for example, who recently appeared on Two and a Half Men tweeted, “Don’t forget to watch 2.5 men tonight!!!” This self-promotion is what Liu classifies as a “prestige” social media page. By identifying with popular culture itself Liu would claim that Cyrus is “seeking popular…prestige” (Liu). Through her twitter account Cyrus also tweets at many other celebrities of high social status, and even re-tweets positive comments posted on other accounts about her. Showing your connections on the web, Marwick describes, is a clear effort to display your social capital. Social media sites, encourage users “to consume others in a concept of networking that privileges social capital over friendship or community building”(Marwick). Cyrus, for example re-tweeted @peoplechoice’s tweet, “we definitely love ourselves some Miley.” By re-tweeting this Cyrus is presenting herself as a prominite figure in pop culture and performing prestige. She uses this relationship with People’s Choice to show her legitimacy and popularity.
Cyrus’ profile is somewhat confusing as she reveals very personal details while also promoting her public image. This combination of the public and private however is very common on social media sites. On sites like Twitter and Facebook we often present private information in a very public way. Zizi Papacharissi describes that “online social platforms collapse or converge public and private boundaries” (Papacharissi). Cyrus interacts with this audience in what Papacharissi calls a series of restored actions, like “photo pheeds” and re-tweets. Restored actions are defined as, “patterns of action unfolded during a performance” (Papacharissi). These repeated activities are used to communicate with a specific community or rather audience become part of the normal discourse for that interaction.
Like all tweeters, Cyrus is aware that she has an audience, an extremely large audience for the matter, and while she attempts to appear as genuine as possible on the site, it is impossible for Cyrus to completely be herself and ignore the audience of 9 million people who are in fact following her. Cyrus is a celebrity and has an image to upkeep of a genuine country girl at heart.
Do you think it is possible for anyone to be completely authentic on twitter or any social media site for the matter?