This week we looked at a very interesting topic; The Networked Self. This can be defined as “a single self that gets reconfigured in different situations as people reach out, connect, and emphasize different aspects of themselves” as Rainie and Wellman put it. In other words, we present different versions of ourselves online that change depending on the audience.
Personally, I feel I present a similar version of myself online as I do in real life. On Instagram and Facebook I share content with my friends which I feel capture my personality well, and I follow accounts that I am genuinely interested in. I feel I have good Social Capital. However, it is an increasing trend that we are all inclined to wear a mask when we are online.
This is the main aspect of the Networked Self I wanted to focus on.
I recently came across an article in the Independent about a YouTube video by Doug Leddin entitled “Let’s talk about depression”.He states how to his friends and family he is a “happy, go-lucky, positive, hardworking and confident guy” but “all that is a bit of a lie”.
This resonated with me deeply. Understandably, people tend to only share their best attributes and qualities online. For fear of being judged, people conform to certain norms and beliefs and are afraid to express themselves fully.
People dealing with depression feel that presenting themselves in any different light other than the one which is normalised by society will have negative repercussions on their lives. They bottle up their feelings.
“The second I posted that video there was such a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. Four years ago I couldn’t have ever spoken about depression or how I was feel. It was a huge relief”, he goes on to say.
“Let’s talk about Depression”
Social Media is both a blessing and a curse; it enables us to connect with people from all over the world, but it also makes it difficult for even the most seemingly confident of people to open up.
Niall Breslin, or ‘Bressie’, is a prime example of this. I came across this article last year, in which he opened up about his battle with anxiety and depression. He presented himself as a confident, together person but behind the mask in the spotlight, he was constantly struggling.
This is a massively important aspect of the Networked Self that often goes unnoticed, because what one portrays online never really gives an accurate representation of the individual.