Finding a Twitter Identity

This week’s article focuses on the way people use twitter to communicate with an audience while bringing into discussion notions of authenticity and balanced or self-censored content. The article I will be referring to is d. boyd and A.E.Marwick’s journal article I tweet honestly, I tweet passionately: Twitter users, context collapse, and the imagined audience (2010).

The article mentioned above investigates the techniques Twitter users use to produce content according and appealing to their audience, while maintaining a sense of authenticity. For some users, tweeting is an activity used for the self. By that the authors mean that some users do not tweet as much for an audience as for themselves, which in this case indicates that Twitter may be seen as a public diary for users to purely express themselves. In this case, inauthenticity appears to be consciously speaking to an audience and therefore the idea of self-censorship is not important. However, for other users, it is precisely because Twitter is a public space, that it is important to filter the information they post. For example, some of the people asked in the article said that they would not tweet something they would feel uncomfortable sharing with their parents or employees, in which case self-censorship becomes very important. Furthermore, it acknowledges a sense of audience. When asked who their imagined audience is, most users say they imagine talking to friends, family and in the case of large numbers of followers, fans. It is also important to mention that users tweet what they find of interest and believe their followers will also find of interest, which suggests that the audience can be perceived as a mirrored-self.

However, censoring what you tweet is for some people a matter of safety. Here is a case in which people fear that if they say whatever they want to say, they might get in trouble.

Since social networking sites are becoming increasingly popular, it is important to analyze the way and reasons people behave and communicate the way they do, which is why boyd and Marwick’s article is important to look at.

Personally, I believe it is hard to maintain a sense of authenticity when users have thousands of followers. Authenticity, of course, can be defined in a certain context, but generally I find that people tend to behave a certain way when they are by themselves and differently when they are with other people, whether virtually or “in real life”.

It is interesting to see whether people communicate the same way online as they do offline. In other words, when people tweet 140-long character messages online, would they say the same thing to a person seating next to them? Is it the same bit of information or is it changed?


Irina Jurj


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