Peering into the social media mirror I made myself: authenticity, existential ethics and one way symmetrical communication

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dc.creator Yue, Anthony R.
dc.creator Thurlow, Amy 2014-02-11T19:20:18Z 2014-02-11T19:20:18Z 2011
dc.description.abstract The age of the image is upon us and with it comes questions of authenticity and representation. With the prolific use of social media utilities such as Facebook, we witness first hand large numbers of individuals choosing how to represent themselves to others. Through social media platforms, individuals construct themselves, as unique identities (ie Facebook pages, twitter accounts, Linkedin contacts) and at the same time as members of collective identities (i.e. Facebook groups, or people who “Like” others or groups) How do they choose individually and as communities, and do they truly exhibit freedom in their choices, to represent themselves in the social media environs of their lives? The choices one makes in terms of one‟s social representation(s) have likely always involved a range of intents and perceived or desired outcomes, so is social media any different? Perhaps the ubiquitous use of social media points to a new era in which every individual is a public relations practitioner. If so, then how can the public relations literature offer insight into how individuals (mis)represent themselves through the mass networking potential of modern electronic media? To begin our discussion of the authentic self within social media we draw on insights from Goffman‟s (1959) work on presentation of self – with a particular focus on the context of communication within the social media milieu, and the implications of that virtual context on understandings of authenticity and identity. This present work differentiates itself from the emerging work on ethics and social media via an existentialist based inquiry into the ethics of representation through social media. Much recent work that touches upon ethical use of electronic communication technologies focuses upon the exchange made, and the antecedents and consequences of such exchanges (e.g (Weatherbee 2010). Some emerging research situates identity and ethics in social media within a boundary spanning social context (e.g. Thurlow & Yue, 2010) and certainly questions have been posed about the dangers of social media in terms of identity (e.g. Turkle, 2011). Building on understandings of symbolic interactionism and foundational theories of public relations, this article proposes that we examine and perhaps integrate an ethics of self and representation that is based upon Sartre‟s phenomenological ontology and the so called being for others. In doing so, we may maintain a sense of personal choice with regards to social media and personal representation whilst also recognizing the facticity which informs such choice. We argue that when taken to its logical end point, then enactment of choice and identity in a self created network effectively becomes a type of one way symmetrical communication; stable technologically mediated narcissism. This philosophic inquiry into the use social media highlights certain aspects of individual existence which do not seem to have had historical analogues. This inquiry thus has implications for both individualistic and organizationally enacted use of social media. en_CA
dc.description.provenance Submitted by Trish Grelot ( on 2014-02-11T19:20:18Z No. of bitstreams: 0 en
dc.description.provenance Made available in DSpace on 2014-02-11T19:20:18Z (GMT). No. of bitstreams: 0 Previous issue date: 2011 en
dc.language.iso en en_CA
dc.publisher Atlantic Schools of Business en_CA
dc.subject.lcsh Social media
dc.subject.lcsh Identity (Psychology)
dc.subject.lcsh Identity (Philosophical concept)
dc.subject.lcsh Self
dc.title Peering into the social media mirror I made myself: authenticity, existential ethics and one way symmetrical communication en_CA
dc.type Text en_CA
dcterms.bibliographicCitation Proceedings of the 41st Atlantic Schools of Business conference, University of Prince Edward Island, 2011, pp 421-429.
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