Labrador Evie: an Influencer in the making

‘On the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog’, one canine advises another as they sit at a desk in a cartoon created by Peter Steiner in 1993 for The New Yorker magazine (Cavna, 2013). The cartoon’s iconic, eight-word line is frequently touted as a warning about the deceptive powers of the Internet: someone can be anyone in the online world. But when I look at my social media feeds, I’m struck by how many of the accounts I’m connected with are actually of dogs…. by dogs. It seems that nowadays, on the Internet, everybody likes a dog, and in a world where ordinary people are finding fame as Social Media Influencers (SMIs), being a dog online is becoming a lucrative and viable career.

Evie, my nine-year-old Labrador, is damn cute. She’s photogenic and has a distinct personality that has made her popular with friends and colleagues. In response to requests for ‘Evie stories’, I’ve started to build her an online persona through our shared Instagram account: The_Lacey.

 

As an avid follower of a number of ‘Instafamous’ pets, such as Tuna the Chiweenie and Jinkee the Red Toy Poodle, I’m now imagining a bigger future for Evie. However, in order to elevate her from average suburban Labrador to superstar pet Influencer, I needed to understand exactly what a Social Media Influencer is. Listen to the following podcast to discover what I learned:

 

Currently, Evie is best described as a ‘micro-celebrity’ (Marwick 2016, p 337) but on more of a micro-micro-micro scale. Her follower count of 102 is a long way from that of ultra-famous Internet dogs, such as Boo the Pomeranian. Boo, believed to be the first dog to hit the social media big time, is followed by around 17 million people (Moreau 2017). But Evie’s followers are steadily climbing and include a couple international dogs of modest celebrity status and some local pet supplies companies. While it may be easy to cast me aside as some crazy stage-mum, I’m not alone. It is claimed that 10% of pet owners have a social media account especially for their pet (Hutchinson 2014). Instagram is the favoured platform for four (or two) legged wannabe stars. Its photo-focused format is perfect for communication the lifestyle and endearments of ‘those who can’t actually talk for themselves’ (Purtill 2016, para 12).

It’s not just pushy fur-parents who are responsible for the rise of the pet Influencers. Brands are also seeking out these cute and engaging superstars. Compared to human Influencers, animals offer greater consistency and reliability, and are authentic and incapable of misrepresenting facts (Hutchinson 2014). As Purtill (2016, para 22) succinctly summarises, ‘they are adorable, silent, and perfect’. For their owners, these qualities are translating into  serious income. In America, ‘dogs can fetch anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000 per sponsored post’ (Birkner 2016, para 2). Pets are faces of luxury car companies, designer clothing labels, animal welfare causes and are even establishing their own lines of products (Purtill 2016). Such is the demand, management agencies specifically for pets of social media fame are springing up, and in Australia too.

However, just like their human counterparts, being a Social Media Influencer is hard work for pets (and their owners). An online persona or personal brand needs to be established and carefully maintained. Dogs might be considered authentic because they can’t help but be themselves, but performativity is still prioritised over the true self (Marwick 206, p 347). The pet Influencer is just as stylised and edited as the human one (Purtill 2016). Pikelet Butterwiggle Stoll, for example may be a bandy-legged rescue staffy but he’s one with a photographer ‘Ma’ and an extensive and fashionable wardrobe. Unfortunately Evie has neither of these. But she does have a owner (me) who is gaining an understanding that to achieve her (my) dreams of Instafame there is some serious work to be done. I need to continue to cultivate her online persona in a consistent and regular manner. I need to identify brands that reflect her values and interests. Most importantly I need to make sure she engages with a loyal base of followers, rather than just building numbers and seeking likes. Will you help us? Join the #LabradorEvie club at The_Lacey.

Evie Lacey

 Graphic created with Canva, 7 September 2017, using original photographs by Linda Lacey

 

Feature image: Labrador Evie, photograph by Linda Lacey, 26 May 2016.

References:

Birkner, C 2016, ‘Why Internet-Famous Dogs Are Fetching So Much Love From Brands’, Adweek, 13 September, retrieved 30 August 2017, http://www.adweek.com/brand-marketing/why-internet-famous-dogs-are-fetching-so-much-love-brands-173339/

Canva, M 2013, ‘‘Nobody Knows You’re a Dog’: As iconic Internet cartoon turns 20, creator Peter Steiner knows the joke rings as relevant as ever’ The Washington Post, 31 July, retrieved 3 September 2017 https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/comic-riffs/post/nobody-knows-youre-a-dog-as-iconic-internet-cartoon-turns-20-creator-peter-steiner-knows-the-joke-rings-as-relevant-as-ever/2013/07/31/73372600-f98d-11e2-8e84-c56731a202fb_blog.html?utm_term=.16aa0ba19849

Hearn, A and Schoenhoff, S 2016, ‘From Celebrity to Influencer: Tracing the Diffusion of Celebrity Value across the Data Stream’, Marshall, PD, Redmond, S (eds) A Companion to Celebrity John Wiley & Sons, pp.194-212, retrieved 3 September 2017, EBSCOhost

Hutchinson, J 2014, ‘I Can Haz Likes: Cultural Intermediation to Facilitate “Petworking”‘, M/C Journal, vol. 17, no. 2, p. 8, retrieved 4 September 2017, Communication & Mass Media Complete, EBSCOhost.

Khamis, S, Ang, L & Welling, R 2017, ‘Self-branding, ‘micro-celebrity’ and the rise of Social Media Influencers’, Celebrity Studies, vol. 8, no. 2, pp. 191-208, doi:10.1080/19392397.2016.1218292

Marwick, A 2016, ‘You May Know Me from YouTube: (Micro-)Celebrity in Social Media’, in Marshall, P D, Redmond, S (eds) A Companion to Celebrity Chichester: John Wiley & Sons, pp 333-350, EBSCOhost

Markerly, n.d., Influencer Marketing: Does Influencer Size Matter?, Markerly, retrieved 3 September 2017, http://markerly.com/blog/instagram-marketing-does-influencer-size-matter/

Moreau, E 2017, 9 Internet Famous Dogs You Need to Be Following, Lifewire, retrieved 4 September 2017, https://www.lifewire.com/internet-famous-dogs-3485776

Newberry, C 2017, ‘Influencer Marketing on Social Media: Everything You Need To Know’, Hootsuite, weblog post, 19 April, retrieved 28 August 2017, https://blog.hootsuite.com/influencer-marketing/

Purtill, C 2016, ‘The highly profitable, deeply adorable, and emotionally fraught world of Instagram’s famous animals’, Quartz, weblog post, 16 February, retrieved 30 August 2017, https://qz.com/612796/the-highly-profitable-deeply-adorable-and-emotionally-fraught-world-of-instagrams-famous-animals/

How My Tweet Got Me Fired!

President of the United States, Donald Trump, is often called out for his unfettered Twitter rants attacking those who criticise him or who sit on the other side of the political divide (Mukherjee 2017). Imagine if you behaved like this in the real world. What would the implications be? I thought that I would give it a try around the office:

The above video clearly shows the disgust of my colleagues. They were uncomfortable and it is not hard to imagine my behaviour resulting in trip to the HR department, a sternly worded warning and even dismissal given that I’d threatened violence.

While Trump enjoys special privilege as a democratically elected President (whether you agree with his behaviour or not), similar rants on my own Twitter account could result in me losing my job. Such behaviour would breech my workplace’s social media policy as well as the Code of Conduct by which I’m expected to behave. This Code extends beyond the physical limits of my work environment and into any forum where I can be identified as an employee or where I interact with colleagues or professional contacts. This includes the social media space where, due to the tools I use and identities I have created, my private self is intertwined with my professional self.

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Made with Canva, 10 August 2017. Background image: Audience (https://flic.kr/p/hPpxB) by Jonas Bengtsson (CC BY 2.0) 

Van Zoonen, Verhoeven and Vliegenthart (2016, p. 1298) found that traditionally the  identities people have within and outside the workplace are ‘activated one at a time in the relevant domains’. Social media is causing these domains to collide, activating identities simultaneously.

As a result, ‘commentary about work-related issues on social media is increasingly at the centre of disputes between employees (or sacked employees) and employers’ (Johnston 2015, p. 176).

In May 2010, electrical shop employee Damien O’Keefe took to his private Facebook page and made a strongly worded, aggressive statement about another mistake with his pay check (Hurst 2011). Unfortunately, 11 of his 70 ‘friends’ were also colleagues. In 2011, Fair Work Australia upheld his sacking, finding his threatening and offensive comments were ‘in breach of his employer’s workplace policies on conduct, sexual harassment and bullying’ (Siow 2013, p.13).

The argument that social media accounts and therefore conversations are ‘private’ is not a valid defence. Dismissal disputes that have ended up in formal legal proceedings confirm that social media is no longer considered a private space:

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Made with Canva, 10 August 2017. Background image: Legal Gavel & Closed Law Book (https://flic.kr/p/J1pfX6) by Blogtrepreneur (CC BY 2.0) 

Social media users are also accused of failing to properly understand the ease and extent with which statements posted online are disseminated (Mills 2017, p. 48). In 2013 while boarding a flight to Africa, publicist Justine Sacco tweeted to her 170 followers what she intended as a joke about white people’s attitudes to AIDs. By the time she landed 11 hours later, her tweet was trending worldwide and the public reaction cost her both her job and her professional reputation (Ronson 2015).

The reality is that not everyone is Donald Trump. How we behave online can have significant ramifications for our careers and damage the reputation of the organisation we work for. Social media policies establishing clear guidelines for private and professional use are, therefore, considered a sound governance requirement for modern workplaces (Johnston 2015, p. 175).

The following graphic illustrates some of the recommended elements of a social media policy:

30 Ways to

Made with Canva, 10 August 2017.

Social media policies also enable organisations and employees to enjoy the benefits of the intertwining of private and professional lives. These include establishing valuable relationships with colleagues and other stakeholders, utilising employee networks to disseminate information at virtually no cost, and enhancing reputations through authentic and positive comments and association (van den Berg & Verhoeven 2017, p150).

Australian’s are active online in ever-increasing numbers (Cowling 2017). Private and professional identities will continue to merge within a connected social media environment. Our conduct online needs to be consistent with our conduct in real life. Don’t be a Trump, unless that is your professional preference. As multinational giant Daimler advises in their social media policy: ‘Be professional, even as a private individual’ (quoted in Johnston, p 181).

 

Feature Image Credit: Sad looking woman (https://flic.kr/p/g5MMmw) by Bradley Gordon (CC BY 2.0).

References:

City of Charles Sturt 2014, Staff Code of Conduct Policy, City of Charles Sturt, retrieved 10 August 2017, http://www.charlessturt.sa.gov.au/webdata/resources/files/Staff%20Code%20of%20Conduct%20Policy%20-%20September%202014.pdf

City of Charles Sturt 2015, Media and Communications Policy, City of Charles Sturt, retrieved 10 August 2017, http://www.charlessturt.sa.gov.au/webdata/resources/files/Media_Policy.pdf

Cowling, D 2017, Social Media Statistics Australia – July 2017, Social Media News, retrieved 8 August 2017, https://www.socialmedianews.com.au/social-media-statistics-australia-july-2017

Hurst, D 2011, ‘Good Guy fairly sacked over Facebook rant’, The Sydney Morning Herald, August 18, retrieved 8 August 2017, http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/good-guy-fairly-sacked-over-facebook-rant-20110817-1iyv2.html

Johnston, J 2015, ‘Loose Tweets Sink Fleets’, Journal of Public Affairs, Vol 15, No 2, pp 175 -187, retrieved 30 August 2017, EBSCOhost.

Mills, M 2017, ‘Sharing Privately: the effect publication on social media has on expectations of privacy’, Journal of Media Law, Vol 9, No 1, pp 45 – 71, retrieved 30 August 2017, EBSCOhost.

Mukherjee, S 2017 ‘How Cyberbullying and Twitter Attacks Can Wreck Your Mental Health’, Fortune, June 30, retrieved 9 August 2017, http://fortune.com/2017/06/29/trump-twitter-mental-health/

Ronson, J 2015, ‘How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco’s Life’, The New York Times Magazine, 12 February, retrieved 9 August 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/15/magazine/how-one-stupid-tweet-ruined-justine-saccos-life.html

Siow, V 2013, ‘The Impact of Social Media in the Workplace: An Employers Perspective’, Communications Law Bulletin, Vol 32.4, retrieved 4 August 2017, http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/journals/CommsLawB/2013/19

Van den Berg, AC & Verhoeven, JWM 2017, ‘Understanding social media governance: seizing opportunities, staying out of trouble’, Corporate Communications: An International Journal, Vol 22, Issue 1, pp.149-164, https://doi.org/10.1108/CCIJ-06-2015-0035

Van Zoonen, W, Verhoeven, JWM, & Vliegenthart, R 2016, ‘Social media’s dark side: inducing boundary conflicts’, Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol 31, Issue 8, pp.1297 – 1311, https://doi.org/10.1108/JMP-10-2015-0388

Video:

Video created with Filmora Wondershare. Music: A-Group, Verve (Wondershare Filmora).

Twitter references:

Scene 1) Trump, D 2017, ‘Sleazy Adam Schiff, the totally biased Congressman looking into “Russia,” spends all of his time on television pushing the Dem loss excuse!’, RealDonaldTrump, Twitter, 24 July, retrieved 6 August 2017, https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump

Scene2) Trump, D 2017, ‘Crazy Joe Scarborough and dumb as a rock Mika are not bad people, but their low rated show is dominated by their NBC bosses. Too bad!’, RealDonaldTrump, Twitter, 1 July, retrieved 6 August 2017, https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump

Scene 3) Trump, D 2017, ‘James Comey leaked CLASSIFIED INFORMATION to the media. That is so illegal!’, RealDonaldTrump, Twitter, 10 July, retrieved 6 August 2017, https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump

Scene 4) Trump, D 2017, ‘I heard poorly rated ‪@Morning_Joe speaks badly of me (don’t watch anymore). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came..’, RealDonaldTrump, Twitter, 29 June, retrieved 6 August 2017, https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump

Trump, D 2017, ‘…to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year’s Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!’, RealDonaldTrump, Twitter, 29 June, retrieved 6 August 2017, https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump

Scene 5) Trump, D 2017, ‘Cryin’ Chuck Schumer stated recently, “I do not have confidence in him (James Comey) any longer.” Then acts so indignant’, RealDonaldTrump, Twitter, 9 May, retrieved 6 August 2017, https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump

Scene 6) Trump, D 2017, ‘Watching Senator Richard Blumenthal speak of Comey is a joke. “Richie” devised one of the greatest military frauds in U.S. history. For….’, RealDonaldTrump, Twitter, 10 May, retrieved 6 August 2017, https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump

Trump, D 2017, ‘years, as a pol in Connecticut, Blumenthal would talk of his great bravery and conquests in Vietnam – except he was never there. When….’, RealDonaldTrump, Twitter, 10 May, retrieved 6 August 2017, https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump

Trump, D 2017, ‘caught, he cried like a baby and begged for forgiveness…and now he is judge & jury. He should be the one who is investigated for his acts.’, RealDonaldTrump, Twitter, 10 May, retrieved 6 August 2017, https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump

Scene 7) Trump, D 2017, ‘James Comey better hope that there are no “tapes” of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!’, RealDonaldTrump, Twitter, 12 May, retrieved 6 August 2017, https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump

Scene 8) Trump, D 2017, ‘‪#FraudNewsCNN‪ #FNN’, RealDonaldTrump, Twitter, 2 July, retrieved 6 August 2017, https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump. (This Tweet feature a video of Trump ‘body slamming’ a person outside a wrestling ring, with the CNN logo covering the face of the person involved).

 

I see you

Using Social Media as a window into the ‘private’ lives of others.

On Tuesday my mate Eric recommended I start my day with a Turmeric shot. I’m not sure I will, but I appreciate how he is always thinking about how I can be healthier. Eric’s a pretty busy man lately. His personal training business has really taken off since the days of running small, weekend boot camps. Now he also manages a steady stream of one-on-one clients. His social life is pretty packed too. In just the last week he’s been to several parties and a couple of movie premiers.

Eric recently introduced me to his Aunt Verna. She’s a pretty inspirational character and she’s helping me to understand unconscious bias. I’m glad that Eric has someone like Aunt Verna to lean on, because the next few days are going to be pretty rough for him. I think he’s about to get dumped by his girlfriend Rachel.

I’ll also be there watching his heart crumble. Only I’ll be watching from afar, and Eric won’t know that I am. You see, Eric and I have never met. How could we – we don’t live in the same city, or even the same country.

Eric Bigger is one of the last men standing of Season 13 of The Bachelorette. I know so much about him due to the window that social media gives us into the lives of others.

As someone seeking fame, Eric has an interest in building a public profile. He uses social media to build a community and an audience, and I’m a happy follower of several of his accounts. But I’ve also scoured the internet for his older, inactive profiles, as well as the social media of his family and friends, and these have given me an insight into his life that he may not have anticipated.

Before you write me off as a woo-woo, reality fan, know this – give me 30 idle minutes and an internet connection and I’ll happily start ‘stalking’ anyone: old friends; enemies; a friend’s partner; the new person starting a work.

I don’t do anything with the information I gather, and I would never dream of contacting people. I’m simply a curious person who is interested in other people. Perhaps this is a hangover of growing up in a small country town or, as Mills (2017) suggests, evidence of the thrill humans gain from voyeurism and gossip.

I know that I’m not alone with my social media ‘stalking’. Most people do it, as demonstrated by my quick Twitter poll:

Social media has given us unprecedented powers to investigate people and know more about the finer details of their lives. As Mills (2017, p. 46) states, the ‘very existence of social networks depends upon sharing’. Social media has created the ‘privacy paradox’: where private information is being shared publicly, blurring the lines between public and private lives. As a result, privacy is being redefined, to the extent that the ‘truly private life is now an illusion’ (Mills, p. 50).

Most people probably underestimate just how much information about them is out there. Even if you aren’t particularly active online, or you keep your privacy settings high, there is still much that can be found out and often it is through other people. Effectively we have lost control of how much information is shared about us, and this makes stalking pretty easy:

All Smiles Dental Clinic presents-2

Graphic made by me with canva.com

 

For some however, social media ‘stalking’ can become something far more sinister. In the wrong hands, social media can be a tool for intimidation and harassment.

The stalking that I do is innocent and fun. Once Bachelorette Rachel makes the MISTAKE OF HER LIFE and chooses Bryan, Eric and his daily life will cease to be of interest to me. I’ll unfollow all his accounts and that of his family and friends. All except for Aunt Verna of course – she’s a keeper.

 

References:

Mills, M 2017, ‘Sharing Privately: the effect publication on social media has on expectations of privacy’, Journal of Media Law, Vol 9, No 1, pp 45 – 71, retrieved 30 August 2017, ESBCOhost.

My ANZAC day

My favourite part of ANZAC day is the sound of footsteps in the dark. It is in that moment, just before the beginning of dawn service, that I feel an immense sense of connectedness to my country and to the people I share it with.

I often spend dawn service sneaking looks at those who’ve come to remember with me. There are those who have rolled straight out of bed, untidy in trackies and thongs, and those who have risen early to shower and dress smartly, medals pinned to chest. We are all different, but we are all one. I think of the powerful words of then-Prime Minister, Paul Keating, at the funeral service for Canberra’s Unknown Soldier; “He is all of them. And he is one of us.”

I’ve been going to ANZAC dawn services since the time it was mainly elderly blokes and their wives from the local RSL, before it became the ‘done thing’, before the centenary of ANZAC pulled at our heartstrings and before social media branded attendance as being ‘proper Australian’.

My first dawn service happened somewhat by accident. Growing up, unreligious and in a small country town, services were held the week before April 25 so the old diggers could attend the march in Adelaide. I understood it as a moment of prayer and of sermon. I didn’t see it as relevant.

It was in another country town that my relationship with dawn services began. Up early to get to Adelaide for an interstate flight and with time to kill, I wandered around the corner from home to stand in front of the local memorial, located on a sweeping bend in the main street. So small was the event, traffic controls weren’t needed – we simply moved off the road when the occasional car crept past.

I still remember the orange light of that autumn morning, and the cool sea breeze chilling my nose and fingers. I remember the strangling in my chest as the Last Post played. I thought of my Pop, who’d only just died and who served in Morotai in WWII. His war always seemed an adventure to us, but it occurred to me that he had been haunted by it all his life. I thought of my Nanna, whose first years of marriage were lived through letters. I also thought of great-Aunties who found liberation and freedom at home in the Women’s Land Army.

A year later, my ANZAC day was very different. Bewildered by the thought of my brother far from home and serving in a conflict it seemed no one in Australia wanted, the importance of the occasion weighed like a heavy stone in my heart. I was in Australia’s largest city, but alone at one of the smallest dawn services I’ve ever attended. It felt like a day whose meaning was forgotten.

Since then, I’ve attended all types of dawn services, from ones in small towns where the Last Post is started by pushing play on a cassette player, to large city ones with brass bands, big-wigs and even bigger crowds.

Five years ago, I found myself sleeping through dawn service at ANZAC Cove in Gallipoli. In my defence, I had been up all night, working as a volunteer. While I was surprisingly unmoved by that dawn service, the time I spent on the Gallipoli Peninsula in the week leading up to it is a cherished experience.

I stood on the pebbly beach at ANZAC Cove, and climbed the battlefield’s steep valleys and sandy cliffs. I thought about how my people – my countrymen – died where my feet now trod. It is a sheer landscape where death would’ve seemed inevitable and where the fact that anyone came out alive is astonishing. Did the ghosts of those diggers feel me there? Did they feel my heart reach out and claim theirs on behalf of the families and the towns to which they’d never return?

DSC01212My heart was also claimed in Gallipoli. By the bold Turkish memorials reaching into vivid blue skies, and by the Turkish people who welcomed us with wide arms and warm smiles of solidarity and friendship. It felt like home, and it sounded like it too. In Gallipoli, the wind whispers dully through tall pine trees surrounding memorials on the high plateaus. It is the sound of my childhood, and of many Australian country towns where the pine tree was planted to symbolise the broken heart.

Dawn service is over for another year. Rain dampened this morning’s start but I still found my special moment in the sound of footsteps on dark streets. I hope you found yours too. Lest we forget.

I can breathe easy now

My final assignment for ALC708 (Blogging & Online Communication Techniques) did not work out as I originally intended.

Producing videos wasn’t even on my mind when I commenced this subject. I thought I was going to spend the summer blogging.

Halfway through the semester, once the shock of video production had subsided, I started envisaging my final project. As someone who works in cultural heritage, I decided this would be a perfect way for me to meld my existing knowledge, with my new, yet rudimentary, video making skills.

It didn’t turn out that way!

I found my knowledge of the cultural heritage sector to be a hindrance. There was too much I wanted to explore and I felt a seven minute video would too constraining.

So I ummed and ahhed and ‘faffed’ about, and found myself settling on a topic I had never thought about previously: how digital media has impacted the way people interact with social movements and politics.

Specifically I am interested in the emergence of the online political party. As I work in Local Government, the potential of these parties to transform local democracy is of interest to me. International founders of this movement have also recently been lauded in my community engagement and grassroots politics circles.

Online political parties can draw on two huge advantages afforded by digital media: the ease with which people can engage in activities to drive social change, and awareness of the power of individuals coming together as a crowd to achieve outcomes (thanks to crowdfunding).

My overall video strategy was to present online political parties as the next step in both online social activism and crowdfunding practices.

Scholarly sources were used to communicate how digital media has transformed social activism. They also demonstrate, in part, why these parties have not yet been successful in getting a representative elected.

The desire of these parties to increase people’s access to politics formed the basis of the overall video theme. In it, I present myself as a run-of-the-mill person who has the potential to become a politician, and influence policy and bills simply by voting on my iPhone. I am the average person who is also a ‘smart phone politician’.

Where possible, I have created all of my own material. While I have become more comfortable with being visible online, seven minutes of my talking head was still not going to be an option! I have used a mix of my own photographs and graphics created with Canva, as well as Creative Commons images and sound, to break up the video. I also used blank screens with subtitles to drive home key points.

I would have liked to use scholarly sources that examine online political parties to support the central proposition of my video, but I was unable to find any. Perhaps these have yet to be written, given that these parties relatively new.

Presenting an academic piece of work as a video was a big challenge. It required me to think about my argument and its structure in a visual sense. Making the actual video was by far and large one of the hardest university projects I have had to complete thus far. I’ve certainly gained skills in this area (starting this subject on a base line of zero), but they are still not developed enough for this to be assignment to have been a piece of cake.

My finished product is not perfect, and there are many bits of it I would love to improve; the audio of some of the videos for a start. mind. I’ve spent hours hunched at the computer, laid awake at night, nearly cried, and had to take a day off work, but, I have to say, (I think) I’ve really enjoyed it!

 

Word Count: 628.

My broader online activity

I have never been so active online! My partner is convinced that I’m glued to Facebook (haven’t actually had time – Twitter has taken over), and my dog has destroyed countless items seeking attention.

See Tiffit tally for my Twitter engagement, which includes the videos I’ve created for the challenges, which now form part of my newly created YouTube channel.

I’ve really appreciated the opportunity to form networks and build relationships with fellow students via Twitter and Soundcloud.

References & Credits

Carty, V 2015, Social movements and new technology, Westview, New York, pp. 1-16 retrieved 6 January, Deakin library catalogue.

Christensen, HS 2011, ‘Political Activities on the Internet: Slacktivism or political participation by other means?’ First Monday, vol. 16, no. 2, retrieved 24 January 2017, firstmonday.org/article/view/3336/2767

Elton-Pym, J 2016, ‘Crowdsourcing democracy: The Flux Party’s radical plan for Australian politics’ SBS, 14 May 2016, retrieved 28 January 2017, http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2016/05/13/crowdsourcing-democracy-flux-partys-radical-plan-australian-politics

Flux Party 2017, ‘Upgrade the system and return power to the people’, retrieved 20 January 2017, https://voteflux.orgmm

Gredley, R 2017, ‘Flux Party to contest WA state election’ The Australian, 30 January 2017, retrieved 2 February, http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/latest-news/flux-party-to-contest-wa-state-election/news-story/fc9d81d6ee0431590f212c19aee5a4c6

How to upgrade democracy for the Internet era, YouTube, TED talks, Pia Mancini, Oct 8 2014, retrieved 1 February, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXfYNdapq3Q

Meric, J 2016, ‘Crowdfunding in Present Society: deconstructing the Zeitgest’ in Meric, J, Maque, L, and Brabet, J (eds), International Perspectives on Crowdfunding, Emerald Group Publishing Limited, UK,pp201-208, retrieved 30 January, EBSCOhost database.

MiVote 2016, ‘What is MiVote’, retrieved 27 January 2017, http://www.mivote.org.au/what_is

Montanaro, D 2016, ‘7 Reasons Donald Trump Won The Presidential Election’ NPR, 12 November 2016,retrieved 26 January 2017, http://www.npr.org/2016/11/12/501848636/7-reasons-donald-trump-won-the-presidential-election

Online Direct Democracy, ‘Online Direct Democracy’, retrieved 20 January 2017, http://www.onlinedirectdemocracy.org

Rohlinger, DA, Bunnage, LA, & Klein, J 2014, ‘Virtual Power Plays: Social Movements, Internet Communication Technology, and Party Politics’ in Groffman, B, Trechsel, A, & Franklin, M (eds) The Internet and Democracy: Voters, Candidates, Parties and Social Movements, Springer, pp 83-109, retreived2 February 2017, Springer Link database

Trump, D 2017 ‘Inaugural address: Trump’s full speech’, CNN, 21 January 2017, retrieved 2 February 2017http://edition.cnn.com/2017/01/20/politics/trump-inaugural-address/

West, L 2017, ‘Not my President, Not now, Not ever’ in What We Saw When Trump Took Office, New York Times, retrieved 26 January 2017 https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/projects/cp/opinion/presidential-inauguration-2017/not-my-president-not-now-not-ever

Sounds

Opening and Closing Music: Happy People by Martijn de Boer (http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/NiGiD/54377) Ft: Stefan Kartenberg (CC BY-NC)

Tire Screech: Softer car screech (https://www.freesound.org/s/233558/) by Waveplay (CC0 1.0)

Bird: Taken from Swallow.wav (https://www.freesound.org/s/71508/) by Benboncan (CC BY 3.0)

Images:

Parliament house: Australian Parliament House in Canberra (https://flic.kr/p/cdiG6s) by Patarika (CC BY-NC 2.0)

American politics: Lincoln Memorial; Washington DC (https://flic.kr/p/5TBSMS) by John Haslam (CC BY 2.0)

American people: xous1vjnip0 by Benjamin Faust (https://unsplash.com/@benjamin_faust) (CC0 1.0)

Large Washington protest group: Womens-march-e (https://flic.kr/p/RAn7Nr) by ResistFromDay1 (CC BY 2.0)

Black & White protest: Anger (https://flic.kr/p/GzHMco) by Richard McPeek (CC BY 2.0) 

Old fashioned protest: South End, sign protesting urban renewal (https://flic.kr/p/hS3MRw) by City of Boston Archives (CC BY 2.0)

Typing letter: Natural light in Steilacoom Park, WA (https://flic.kr/p/dAnFyU) by Christian Gonzalez (CC BY 2.0)

Computer protest: Day 9 Occupy Wall Street September 25 2011 Shankbone 33 (https://flic.kr/p/aqpLqe) by David Shankbone (CC BY 2.0)

Net Protest: NYC Rolling Rebellion Advocates for Net Neutrality and Takes on TPP & Fast Track (https://flic.kr/p/rc4E6C) by Backbone Campaign (CC BY 2.0)

Year of the Protester: Protestor (https://flic.kr/p/dX7X7) by John Rawlison (CC BY 2.0)

Night crowd: Crowd (https://flic.kr/p/4cdz51) by Jacob Botter (CC BY 2.0)

All videos and other images created by Linda Lacey:

Council Chambers, Chasm, Mexican sun worshippers, Sunset.

‘How it works’ graphics created with Canva.com, using Canva graphics.

 

 

Learning how to be revealing

Feature Image: Online I am seen but never really seen. Photograph by Linda Lacey, 8 December 2016.

I’m the person who you know little about.

I’m not anti-social and I enjoy communicating with other people. I’m even known as a bit of a talker. But there’s always one proviso – I don’t talk about me. A conversation that starts delving into me is quickly turned around: “I’m fine, work is great, nothing exciting has been going on, but what about you, how did you get on with that tricky situation…?”. Even my hairdresser, the confidante of many, comes up empty.

For someone like me, who ducks and weaves when things get personal, the rise of social media as key tool for connecting and (re)presenting oneself, has been challenging. It requires the placement of the ‘self’ at centre, as the starting point for discussion and engagement. As a result, beyond a locked down and tightly controlled Facebook profile I’ve been reticent to grow my online existence.

However, it is now a matter of survival, both professionally and personally. If I’m not visible online, I’m invisible to many. And so, I find myself here, a student of Deakin University’s ‘Blogging and Online Communication Techniques’ expanding my online presence and exploring the notion of online identity.

Online identities, like real life identities, are ‘decentred and multiple’ (Kennedy 2014, p. 30). Our online identities, constantly evolving and always under construction, are ‘an ongoing reflective performance and articulation of selfhood’ (Cover 2014, p. 55). They are public and private (Aresta et al 2015, p. 82). They are who we are now, and also who we hope to be (Turkle 2011, p. 12).

As my online participation has grown, so too has my online identity(ies) via the different versions of ‘self’ that I present. Who I am and how much I reveal depends on location, audience and purpose.

The infographic below maps the versions of ‘self’ I present online. They are public or private, based on the categories of Marshall (2010), as well as now versus future, or desired, personas.

l

Created with Canva

Possessing a multifaceted online identity isn’t unique to me, nor is it unique to the online space. Digital journalist Patrick Smith (2015) examined the ease with which people create multiple online identities, including those very different to the person behind them. He found ‘the contemporary notion of self is that we don’t have a single stable self’ (para 17).

Just as we present different identities dependent on circumstances in the real world, we do online. This multiplicity may even be enhanced in the online space as the power of the internet exposes us to larger audiences in more environments. Given that online presentations of identity often occur in formats that only enable fragmented acts, as opposed to the continuous and coherent identity (Cover 2014) that is constructed through relationships with family and workmates, for example, it is no wonder that our cyber-identities are many and diverse.

Marshall (2010, p. 42) describes the more coherent ‘intercommunicative self’ that can be created when online identities are linked and layered. As someone who shies away from others being able to build a complete picture of ‘me’, linking of my various platforms, either directly or by using the same profile name, is something I have previously avoided.

I sympathise with Lee (2016) who ‘bristled’ when her Instagram feed was revealed to an audience for whom it was not intended:

“Though my Instagram account is public, it isn’t meant for my family to see. I felt a little shy admitting this at the time, but I compartmentalize and curate my social media life to an exacting degree.” (Lee 2016, para 2).

I would have this reaction if my family was to see my Facebook account. While I don’t have anything to hide, who I am on Facebook is very different from the private identity I have within my family context. Although my Facebook account is private, the identity I present is public.

I use Facebook for connecting with friends and workmates, as well as various professional and personal communities that I am a part of. I am very controlled about my identity within this space. My profile information contains limited information, and some of it is deliberately incorrect (for example, my birthday). I’m cautious and precise about the information I post and the pages I ‘like’ or ‘follow’. Where I can, I also control what others post about me. My approval is required for posts to my timeline, and I general ‘untag’ myself from photos others post.

Of course, each of these ‘acts’ forms, in itself, a ‘coordinate’ around which an identity can be built (Cover 2014, p. 59). What I chose to post, like, ‘friend’, and even not reveal, contributes to the construction of my Facebook identity.

Occasionally I post from my Instagram account to my Facebook profile. My Instagram account is public. It is a platform where I creatively explore my interests, namely my dog (#labradorevie) and my love of food. If once on the internet no one knew if you were a dog, an examination of my Instagram would lead you to believe I am indeed.

img_4133

Screen shot of photos taken by me and displayed on my  Instagram account. Captured 9 December 2016.

Who I am on Instagram is a very much a ‘projected version’ of the self (Aresta et al 2015, p. 71), almost the ‘branded me’ (Cover 2014, p. 79). This positioning influences how I present myself visually in Instagram and in other online spaces. The slideshow below illustrates that my online visual identity is shaped by what I have learnt from social media and from the ‘pedagogy of the celebrity’ (Marshall 2010, p. 36).

Recently my online presence has expanded to include Linkedin, About.me, and Twitter. Within these spaces, I find I need to be less guarded about my identities and more considered in bringing these together as a single online identity, ‘intercommunicative’ style.

My Twitter profile bio is deliberately ‘public private self’ (Marshall 2010, p. 44):

screen-shot-2016-12-12-at-3-37-35-pm

Screen shot of my Twitter profile bio. Retrieved 12 December 2016.

To date my Twitter presence has been episodic and fragmented, related specifically to my university studies, as illustrated by the example tweets embedded below:

To better build my Twitter identity I need to be more ‘performative’ (Cover 2014, p. 61), engaging more frequently and in a less constructed manner. In a sense, I need to adopt some of the positive, responsive qualities of the ‘transgressive intimate self’ (Marshall 2010, p. 45).

Establishing this blog has been the biggest step I’ve taken in my online existence. For it to be successful, my public private self needs to be fully, and somewhat shamelessly, on display. It’s a challenge. But I’m ready. In fact, I’ve already revealed more than I ever have before.

Word count 1029

My broader online activity

I’ve joined Twitter and created my first ever ‘me’ blog post. This is huge for someone who tends to ‘lurk’ online. I even created another online profile at about.me. I’m not sure of its purpose yet but I did some research and I think I need to change it to reinforce my online presence created in Linkedin and through my employment.

If starting a blog has been a long-term goal, Twitter has been a revelation! I joined exactly 1 month ago. I’ve made 36 ‘tweets’ (that’s about one a day!). It’s good, but I think there’s room for improvement.

References

Aresta, M, Pedro, L, Santos, C and Moreira, A 2015, ‘ Portraying the self in online context: context-driven and user- driven identity profiles’, Contemporary Social Science, Vol 10, No 1, pp. 70-85, retrieved 10 December, ebescohost.

Baker, D 2016, ‘How disconnecting the internet could held our identity’, BBC News, 1 April, retrieved 9 December 2016, http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-35895719

Cover, R 2014, ‘Becoming and belonging: performativity, subjectivity, and the cultural purposes of social networking’, in Poletti, A and Rak, J (eds.), Identity Technologies: Constructing the Self Online , The University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, pp. 55-69.

Hills, M 2009, ‘Case study: social networking and self-identity’, in Creeber, G and Martin, R (eds.), Digital Cultures: Understanding New Media,Open University Press, Maidenhead, pp. 117-21.

Kennedy, H 2014, ‘Beyond Anonymity, or Future Directions for Internet Identity Research’ in Poletti, A and Rak, J (eds.), Identity Technologies: Constructing the Self Online , The University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, pp. 25-41.

Lee, N 2016, ‘Having multiple online identities is more normal than you think’, Engadget, 3 April, retrieved 9 December 2016, https://www.engadget.com/2016/03/04/multiple-online-identities/

Marshall, PD 2010, ‘The promotion and presentation of the self: celebrity as marker of presentational media’, Celebrity Studies , vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 35 – 48

Smith, P 2015, Chilling Stories of Fake Online Identities And Why People Create Them, Buzzfeed News, July 4, retrieved 9 December 2016, https://www.buzzfeed.com/patricksmith/this-is-why-people-create-false-identities-on-the-internet?utm_term=.cqMKl1MOY#.ejEw95D2V

Turkle, S 2011. Alone together why we expect more from technology and less from each other. New York, NY: Basic Books.

 

Disconnected in Cuba

fidel_castro

Fidel Castro, by Antonio Milena – Abr Editing, (CC BY 3.0 BR)

Fidel Castro has died.

It’s news that has me reflecting on my trip to Cuba two years ago. It is marked in my digital existence as the time when I slipped off the radar. My social media accounts fell silent, and like sand drifting over a footprint, my ‘I’m going on holidays’ brag disappeared under layers of posts in people’s feeds.

I knew not to expect much coverage in Cuba but my sense of disconnection still unsettled me. My tablet and phone were reduced music players as their bars of service flat lined.

Did the outside world exist anymore?

Hotels promised WiFi access but generally failed to deliver. It was down, or they’d run out of access cards, or the person who held the key to access cards wasn’t there.

Then finally, in a small, gaol like hotel in central Cuba, we struck good fortune.

I paid the equivalent of about $4 AUD for one internet hour. I bumbled through Spanish instructions, I held my breath as the wheel of promise spun and spun and spun….. And then I was on!!!

But ironically, I didn’t care.

It turned out I’d adjusted to life without the internet.

In fact, I had embraced it. I was living life instead of viewing it. The plethora of information about news, people, celebrities, things, cats on robot vacuum cleaners, that I had at my finger tips seemed exhausting and unnecessary.

And I didn’t need to post about where I was or what I was doing to validate my own experiences.

I grew up without being constantly connected, and I had forgotten how relaxing it can be.

Which was good, because after only 15 minutes, it dropped out. In true Cuban style, the only thing reliable in Cuba is that nothing really works.

Here I am… blogging

I’ve been a blogging cynic for a long time. My criticism that blogs just provide egos with a platform to air their opinions, in all reality, is just bravado behind which I’ve hidden my insecurities about the worthiness of my world views in the eyes of others.

My desire to chase a new future for myself and redefine who I am in a professional sense, as well as finally see if I have what it takes to be a writer, has led me here. Starting a blog. Putting myself out there.

I’m a post-grad student of Communications at Deakin University. This blog in part fulfils some of my course requirements and my coming posts will be related to my studies as I explore online communications and online identities. It probably won’t be particularly thrilling to most people, but I hope that you hang in there and enjoy the learning journey with me.