An exploration into experiences of individuals who use multiple social networking sites as a form of self-expression and identity.
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Users on social media are required to design a profile; research argues that this should be considered as part of one’s identity (Kimmons, 2014). How users choose to express their identities online has been previously studied however there is not as much literature surrounding expression in different ways using different social media platforms. Research has suggested that this notion could be dangerous to the authenticity of ones identity (Davis, 2012), thus the current project aims to explore individuals personal accounts of social media use regarding self-expression of their identities. A qualitative design was chosen, six semi-structured interviews have taken place and an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) (Smith, 1996) was used to analyse the data. There were five superordinate themes generated from the analysis; Who I appear to be, My online fluid self, Expressing identity, Who can see me and Chaotic implications of being online. Overall the results suggest that individuals experiences of using social media to express their identities is affected by factors surrounding social influence, and how they appear to look to others. How users choose to express their identities online is mediated by a specific audience and their perceptions of how they feel they should present themselves online. These findings are consistent with previous literature regarding identity and social media and further research is needed in order to understand some of these factors regarding expression of identity.
BSc (Hons) Psychology
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