The online world is becoming increasingly complex, with new technologies leading to innovations that change the way people interact online. These interactions are diverse, producing a mutual relationship between a media practitioner and the social system they inhabit (McCreery et al., 2013). Through their online activities people seek to portray a variety of personas, be it one of authenticity or something strictly monitored and mandated. Since social media platforms “have their own conventions, grammars, and logistics,” (Meese et al., 2015), the ways in which someone may want to present themselves differs depending on the platform they choose.
A key example of this is Twitter. Twitter provides a mediated online arena, where people can choose who they want to follow and what type of content they want to see, allowing practitioners to choose their level of engagement with such content.
Affordances on Twitter:
- Posts (280-character limit)
- # Hashtags
- Videos (and gifs)
- Linking articles
- Responding to other’s posts
- Reblogging other’s content (with or without comment)
- Direct Messaging
Pennington (2018) notes that social media often allows for the creation of “third spaces” where individuals can explore aspects of their identities away from those who may judge them, potentially allowing for one’s world views to be challenged in a safe environment. Twitter allows this, as users can create completely anonymous accounts that are not linked to any other part of their online lives.
I have experienced this personally, as I have recently created a twitter account centred around the Mo Dao Zu Shi (MDZS) and other anime fandoms. Through this account I am able to view, and share content indiscriminately, I feel much more open and able to share my opinions in a space where I know that people, I know won’t be able to view or judge them. While I curate a certain presence through this account, I also work to create a sense of authenticity that may sometimes be lacking from my public twitter account.
The content of this account is aimed primarily at those within the MDZS fandom, or those with a deep understanding of similar fandom culture. Since the majority of the posts are text based, it is more accessible to a western or otherwise English-speaking audience, although when reblogging or posting images the lack of text allows them to be understood by the wider global fanbase. As stated by DeLuca (2017), participation in fandom communities varies from sharing one’s own interests to debating key topics and issues within a fandom. Through my content I aim to share my love for the series, my appreciation for other’s artworks and creations and some of my own views relating to the series. I also find Twitter to be a great platform for connecting with others, often using #hashtags and @user to create and grow new relationships (Meese et al., 2015).
Through the curation of a certain online presence, people can explore and grow facets of themselves that they may not be able to explore in everyday life. The anonymity of online communication allows practitioners to be more open with their views and allowing those very beliefs to be challenged in an open and welcoming forum.
Credit for feature image: Giphy
References DeLuca, K., 2018. Shared Passions, Shared Compositions: Online Fandom Communities and Affinity Groups as Sites for Public Writing Pedagogy. Computers and composition, [online] 47, pp.75-92. Available at: <https://ey9ff7jb6l-search-serialssolutions-com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/?genre=article&ID=doi:10.1016/j.compcom.2017.12.003&issn=87554615&title=Computers%20and%20Composition&volume=47&issue=&date=20180301&atitle=Shared%20Passions,%20Shared%20Compositions:%20Online%20Fandom%20Communities%20and%20Affinity%20Groups%20as%20Sites%20for%20Public%20Writing%20Pedagogy&spage=75&pages=75-92&sid=EBSCO:ScienceDirect&au=DeLuca,%20Katherine#?> [Accessed 6 September 2020]. McCreery, M., Schrader, P., Krach, S. and Boone, R., 2013. A sense of self: The role of presence in virtual environments. Computers in human behavior, [online] 29(4), pp.1635-1640. Available at: <https://ey9ff7jb6l-search-serialssolutions-com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/?genre=article&ID=doi:10.1016/j.chb.2013.02.002&issn=07475632&title=Computers%20in%20Human%20Behavior&volume=29&issue=4&date=20130701&atitle=A%20sense%20of%20self:%20The%20role%20of%20presence%20in%20virtual%20environments&spage=1635&pages=1635-1640&sid=EBSCO:ScienceDirect&au=McCreery,%20Michael%20P.#?> [Accessed 6 September 2020]. Meese, J., Gibbs, M., Carter, M., Arnold, M., Nansen, B. and Kohn, T., 2015. Selfies at Funerals: Mourning and Presencing on Social Media Platforms. International Journal of Communication, 9, pp.1818-1831. Pennington, R., 2018. Social media as third spaces? Exploring Muslim identity and connection in Tumblr. The International Communication Gazette, 80(7), pp.620-636.