More impressive yet, we can be whoever we desire to be in our virtual worlds. We construct our identities from wherever we are and intentionally share specific ideals of ourselves with the click of a few buttons on our smartphones. Initially, this may be experienced as liberating or limitless.
Lamentably, I understand the benefits harvested from participation are hardly inconsequential; social media have the development and perception of identity recontextualized.Our identities lead to the truths of ourselves (Erikson, 1968). We perform our truths through our identities because humans possess a need to fuel control over theirimages, and the production thereof, as a means of empowerment (Johnson, 2001). The post-modern society, wherein the conceptualized self is socially manufactured through interaction with the social world (Cote, 2006; Kroger, 1989), is a primary space for self- actualization. We are always in the process of constructing and reconstructing our identities, as we are the product of all of our experiences. We select and develop ways of being for an amassment of reasons, but largely because they make sense for our individual experiences. Our identities are politically chosen (Weeks, 1985).
Instagram provides us with space to seemingly reconstruct our histories and lived experiences. More, it allows us to proclaim our future agendas and identities through pictures and rhetorical commentary. Our identities function as necessary fictions, selected and abandoned to fulfill political objectives (Weeks, 1995). It is a consensus across communication fields and allied disciplines that individuals become and develop due to human interaction and the lived experiences that derive (Blumer, 1969,1980; Goffman, 1959; Mead, 1934).
Contemporary modes of communicating often default to online mediums, and communication scholarship is only starting to explore the ways Instagram is complicating the process of constructing and becoming.Thus far, I have used the collective pronouns of “we” and “our” to encompass all who participate on social media. At this point, I wish to establish to whom these pronouns refer in this thesis about Instagram. When I first conceptualized this project, I understood my initial thoughts, feelings, and observations to be limited to a very confined exposure3and personal experience on Instagram. I come from a small suburb in the San Francisco Bay Area.
My best friend lived up the street from my house all throughout high school. I was a cheerleader and a writer for the school newspaper in a town where I knew most of the students at both rival high schools. I have made additional friends from college and various jobs and have expanded further into the SF Bay Area as I’ve gotten older. Most of the people I follow and who follow me on Instagram come from this world.