Social media and personal identity: the presentation of self online

Watling, Sue (2012) Social media and personal identity: the presentation of self online. In: Social Work and Social Development: Action and Impact, 8-12 July 2012, Stockholm.

Social_media_and_personal_identity.pdf - Presentation

Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Presentation)
Item Status:Live Archive


There is increased evidence of blurred boundaries between the personal and the professional when presenting the self online. This has resulted in rising numbers of inappropriate digital identities on social media sites. Often inadvertently created, these can have serious professional consequences for those involved. Using social media effectively requires appropriate digital literacies. The misuse of sites such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as careless comments in personal emails and blogs, have potential implications for those in professional practice. Using social media requires careful management of online identity. This needs to be addressed by social work educators as well as within social work placement and practice. This presentation offers guidance to social work students and practitioners about adopting digitally literate ways of working and ensuring individual online identities are appropriate for professional practice. Using a case study approach, it will raise awareness of the need for differentiation between public and private selves and offer evidence which demonstrates how poor judgement can lead to disciplinary procedures and suspension. The presentation’s title is adapted from Goffman’s seminal text on presenting the self in everyday life. Although this was written fifty years ago, the notion of performance on a stage is equally applicable to the theatre of virtual environments. In the 21st century, social media incorporates a dual stage; one on which the performance takes place and the other which is occupied by the viewer. While there are some controls over the way in which the self is presented, users are often unaware of the extent to which their online identity can be misrepresented and misused by others. The need to address digital literacies in social work education and practice is an increasingly important once and this presentation will address the permanence of digital footprints. Whether it is a personal photograph or comment, or an inappropriate friend request or virtual relationship, the consequences of careless online behaviours can be detrimental to professional futures. The presentation of self online calls for increased awareness of the need for differentiation between public and private identities when using social media and the establishment of firm boundaries with lines which should not be crossed.

Keywords:social media, digital inclusion, identity
Subjects:X Education > X342 Academic studies in Higher Education
X Education > X142 Training Teachers - Higher Education
Divisions:Professional services > Lincoln Higher Education Research Institute
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ID Code:6135
Deposited On:13 Sep 2012 09:31

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