It is undeniable that we portray ourselves differently amongst our peer groups, family and colleagues. Furthermore, individual present a contrived version of themselves which ultimately manifest disingenuous expectations toward others. This presupposition is based on Erving Goffman’s dramaturgical analysis on social interactions in terms of theatrical performance including, both a front and backstage element. Theatre in this instance represents a metaphor where we envision ourselves observing what goes on, theatre wise, of everyday life. This metaphor explains these performances that are derived from an individual's need to create a specific impression in the minds of others. This is defined as the presentation of self and proposes the question of how presentation of self-change exists when it comes to social media. A byproduct through the usage of social media is the representation of true self being concealed online. Given this, people present themselves enough so that people can see who they are without delving into their true self. These concepts develop into idealization, in which Goffman proposes that we idealize our intentions. Individuals only engage and attempt to maintain an online scripted performance so others selectively see what they want them to see. The presentation of self varies drastically from Instagram to Snapchat, in which I will be examining how they affect our front stage and backstage self.
Self-presentation critically defines human behavior as it attempts to convey information about oneself or some sort of image of themselves to other people. Social media generate these incentives in order to write scripts to present ourselves a certain way. This is most evident on Instagram, where users present their most scripted self. Instagram functions as a mobile application enabling users to visually share personal information through photographs. Each post or picture is methodically thought out, edited, and strategically posted so that the individual would be able to reach a certain amount of likes. Instagram enables users to create a desired image through filters and various applications such as Facetune, so that one can alter an individual’s appearance online. This reaffirms Goffman’s dramaturgical analysis that we exhibit our behavior to maintain a certain image in front of others. Most often, these posts are a combination of vacation pictures, selfies, family, and peers that portray an identity. Furthermore, a person’s profile most often reveals a theme, in which the photos contain subjects unique to the individual. In this sense, Goffman’s concept is utilized in that we are watching a scripted theatrical performance through the lens of social media and interpret the performance with the limited depiction of what is presented to us.
Evidence of scripted self-presentation can also be identified within another popular social media application, Snapchat. Conversations and information are initiated through a quick picture or ‘snap’ in which people can engage in. However, the exchange of information is different, when sending a snap to a peer, than it would be putting it on our story in which everyone can see. We send people who we are comfortable with an effortless photo or allow them to see our backstage self. Yet, when posting something for a network of people that could include acquaintances or family members, we are careful in selecting the content we put out. This plays an important role in these cases as we create an interpretation of a situation that strengthen our front stage selves, so audiences can envision oneself how we want them to. Again, this motivates us to preserve our scripted self that we have determined.
Technological advances and social media harbor valuable concepts presented both in Erving Goffman’s dramaturgical analysis and elicit his ideals on the presentation of self. The ways in how both the front stage and backstage presentation of self-function can clearly be found and analyzed through mobile applications such as Instagram and Snapchat. Ultimately, these applications portray only what oneself wants to be seen and interpreted to others to maintain their identity online.