The Internet Identity Paradox: A self-concept exercise

Posted on February 17, 2013

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The Johari window is a technique created by Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham in 1955 in the United States, used to help people better understand their relationship with self and others. It is used primarily in self-help groups and corporate settings as a heuristic exercise.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johari_window

On my first year of college, I had this class called SC 10, or Speech Communication 10. The course title is “Basic Speech Communication”. I didn’t really do excellently in that class, as I think I had social anxiety and a fear of public speaking. Or talking. I don’t really know. Anyway, it was in this class that I learned more about this Johari Window and how it relates to self-concept. So what is a Johari Window? Basically, it looks like this:

imagesThis is a helpful tool in forming a self-concept. Because the fourth window is obviously unknown to everybody, and I have no idea what to do with Window Three, I will contribute information on windows one and two.

I. Known Self

  1. I am a girl
  2. I am fair-skinned and pale
  3. I have unruly brown-ish hair
  4. I am quiet and introverted
  5. I will read anything and everything
  6. I love music. Seriously I will listen to anything, even the most obscure artists
  7. I can be snobbish and sarcastic
  8. I am from UP, studying journalism
  9. I am nice
  10. I love Harry Potter

II. Hidden Self

  1. I am lonely
  2. I am discontented
  3. I am actually friendly
  4. I am conscious about my weight
  5. Actually I am conscious about my entire physical appearance
  6. I have social anxiety
  7. My hands just can’t keep still
  8. I used to bite my fingernails
  9. I still listen to cheesy love songs
  10. I am stubborn
  11. I am critical of everything and everybody, especially when it comes to their taste in music
  12. I live in fear of looking stupid in public

Since this is the age of social media, the documentation generation, I think I have successfully established my self-concept in the interwebs. Even my hidden self is not-so-hidden anymore. Here in my blog, I have poured my heart out for the entire world to see. I used to be uncomfortable posting pictures of myself on the Internet, now anyone can see my Facebook profile picture, comments included. I am now able to make that picture of me above as the featured picture for this entry. I’m having trouble thinking about what to put in my “hidden self” window because I don’t think I’ve hidden myself anymore, thanks to the Internet.

My tumblog is basically a scrapbook of everything people need to know about me. What I like. What I look like. What I deal with in my life. I hate to admit that my followers on Tumblr might know me better than my own mother.

It’s like I have this fear of losing my Internet identity. Everyone has to know what I like. It’s a way of self-affirmation. It’s a way of confirming to myself that I am someone, that I do exist. It’s my way of saying to myself, “yes, you do know who you are”.

Me showing my identity on the Internet is also a way of connecting to people with similar interests. I guess I just wanted to know that I am not alone.

In Tumblr, I reblog mostly these things:

  1. Fashion (casual, grunge-y, mod, vintage, and classic are usual the styles I go for)
  2. Harry Potter, Adventure Time, Skins, Daria, Dr. Who, Sherlock things
  3. 90’s things
  4. Screencaps from movies that I like
  5. Funny things
  6. Music-related things
  7. Photography

Once in a while, I post original content:

  1. Text posts
  2. Photographs
  3. Songs of the artists I like which I downloaded off the Internet

On Facebook, my cover photo is a screencap from my favorite movie, Submarine. It is my way of showing that Submarine is an awesome movie, and that it is my favorite one. I also have this habit of liking the Facebook pages of things I like, ESPECIALLY musical artists. I have liked over 400-500 music pages on Facebook. It is my way of showing people the kind of music that I like. I actually identify people based on the music pages that they like. In a way I just know who I’m going to get along with.

People can also know about me based on the things I share. The way I comment or compose my statuses can also give away things about me, like the fact that I am a “Grammar Nazi” and that I avoid arguments a lot.

Bitstrips. That’s a Facebook application. I think a lot of us have heard of that already. Here, people can make virtual comic strips. I have noticed people commenting to each other, “kuhang kuha ah” (it looks exactly like you) or “bakit hindi mo kamukha?” (why doesn’t it look like you?) and even “ang payat nito, parang hindi ikaw” (you look so thin here, it doesn’t look like you).

I have a Bitstrips avatar. It’s become so much a part of me that I used it for Twitter:

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Social networking can be a real self-esteem crusher, too. I admit, I am always hesitant on posting things on Facebook (all other social networking sites, actually) because I could be ignored. And I could look like a loser.

Tricia Gosingtian is a fashion blogger and a Filipino Internet sensation. I like visiting her site, Tricia Will Go Places. She has been everywhere from the New York Fashion Week to Paris. She has indeed, gone to places. She still posts her outfits from time to time, but now she styles for others. She’s not necessarily my idol, I just want to experience the things she have experienced. I’m not envious, just inspired. I want to be like that, but a little less fashionista. Berger once said something about advertising and the lure of luxury, and I admit that I am indeed lured by Ms. Gosingtian’s achievements. I can’t help but compare her life to mine, which is pathetically mundane. But that’s what the Internet does – it mirrors your life back to you.

This is what I call the Internet Identity Paradox. These venues of social interaction are my platforms for self-expression and they end up being the ones that define me. This may be true, but I am trying not to let that get out of hand. In the end, it is only I who can define myself.

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