All media platforms have their own specific set of technical factors which dictate the way users interact with them, contributing to an established set of social norms (Coleman, 2011, 19); this is comparative to what Erving Goffman describes as the observable performance of identity being a ‘front’, which only exists in a single setting and social context (1959, 22). Outside of these contexts, I argue that in my representations of self there are core traits that remain fixed in each version.
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In both my online and offline selves, there are core personal traits that I use to label myself and these impact the holistic construction of all my identities. Goffman describes these characteristics that make up the ‘personal front’ as equipment that accompanies the performer regardless of setting (Goffman, 1959, 23-24). In my Tumblr ‘about’ description, I construct myself through words by listing such details as my first name, my occupation as a media student, my nationality as Australian and my gender as a female; these descriptors are within all representations of my selves, influencing my interpretation of the world both online and offline. However, there are a number of other, more changeable factors that I believe are more influential in shaping my self construction on a day-to-day basis; I identify myself by the media I consume: the music I listen to, the books I read and the television I watch. My Tumblr identity is one-dimensional in that it is constructed around the NBC television series, Hannibal (the fan community is recognised within Tumblr as the ‘Fannibals’). I perform this identity through the singular lens of being a fan, but ‘being a fan’ is an identifying personal trait in and of itself.
Matthew Hills theorises that there is a ‘social identity’ attached to a fan through engagement with the media and displays of fan behaviour (Hills, 2004, viii-xi). In the real world I sometimes show myself