@beccacrawford_ and My Imagined Audience

Hello my fellow bloggers! As you all know, this is our last week of writing our blogs, which definitely saddens me 😦 At first I thought these blogs were difficult to write, and now I am looking forward to each week I have to write them! I will definitely continue to blog when I can, however I realize I’m coming into a pretty busy time of my life, applying to become a teacher and all.

So what do I want to write about as my final blog topic? I decided that I want to write about something I am clearly addicted to, TWITTER! After reading this weeks article by boyd and Marwick, the article has made me question why I tweet, who I’m tweeting to, and what is my reasoning for using Twitter?  I will connect these questions to other theorists we have discussed in this class, such as Clay Shirky (2011) and Castells (2007).

Before I enter the theoretical aspect of this blog, I wish to describe my own experience on Twitter.  Here are some screen shots of my Twitter account.  As described in “I Tweet Honestly, I Tweet Passionately: Twitter, Users, Context Collapse, and the Imagine Audience,” boyd and Marwick describe the user’s account and self presentation as different compared to those of other social media websites.  Self-presentation is presented through “the ongoing tweets and conversations with others, rather than static profiles,” and is “primarily textual rather than visual” (2011, p. 116).

My Twitter Account.

As you can see, my profile is exactly that.  It has an image of me, a 140-character “about me” description, a visual header of my little baby hamster Grace (she’s freaking adorable, how could I NOT!?) and of course all of my tweets and conversations.

As you can see, I “follow” more people than I have people “following” me, the ratio being 420:265 respectively, another point addressed in the boyd and Marwick article (2011, p. 116 & 117).

In the article, boyd and Marwick describe how a Tweet answers the question, “What are you doing?” as a way for Tweeters to express how they are feeling in a particular moment, or what they are doing at that particular moment (Ibid).  The article by boyd and Marwick makes me question why I tweet, and who I am tweeting to.  According to the authors, people have an “imagined audience,” or the potential large and global audience that could read your tweets, and this answers the who I’m tweeting to question.  However, boyd and Marwick specifically explain how difficult it is for Twitter users to know their potential audience, let alone actual readers (2011, p. 117).

I use my Twitter account for a variety of reasons: to rant about daily run-ins (missing the bus/o-train, stubbing my toe), talking about football, communicating with my friends, and posting articles that interest me and that I would like for others to see.  I mostly use my twitter for my obsession with football, and the Raven’s community that comes together through hashtags and trends on Twitter (i.e. #ravens, #ravensnation, #ibleedpurple, #ballsoharduniversity, just to name a few trends).  Here’s a screenshot of my Twitter account from last Sunday’s game:

My Twitter account is in some ways a definite form of “mass self-communication,” a term coined by Castells in his article “Communication, Power and Counter-Power in the Network Society,” (2007). According to Castells, one main component of mass self-communication is that it is “self generated in content, self-directed in emission, and self-selected in reception by many that communicate with many,” (p. 248).  I can only say that my Twitter account is an assortment of mass self-communication because not all of my content is self-generated, some of it I have “Retweeted” or “quoted” just because someone else wrote a statement that I was going to write in more-or-less the same way.  This is normally the case when I’m watching Ravens football and the actual team profile,@Ravens produce live tweets for the game.

So what is the purpose of my Twitter account, does it have the capability to create social change, as demonstrated in the article “The Political Power of Social Media” by Clay Shirky?  As we have demonstrated in class, Twitter definitely has the power to create social change and political activism, as seen through the examples of the Israel Defense Forces Twitter account.

Sorry for the Image Taking Rena!

But does my Twitter account have the same potential? I highly doubt it, seeing as my Twitter account is of trivial substance, not of political action.  Even though at times I can make my account more politcal (i.e. putting feminist articles or quotes up), but for the most part, my account is used to find a larger, global community of fans of the Baltimore Ravens.  For now, my Twitter account will be used to hopefully reach my favourite football players, as was the case on my birthday when @Untouchablejay4, also known as Terrell Suggs, one of the famous Raven’s linebacker, or to become one of the top fans for the Baltimore Raven’s (creating a sense of celebrity status is also addressed in the article by boyd and Marwick.)

i got a birthday wish fro a celebrity 😉

So bloggers, I ask you this? Who is your imagined audience, regardless of whatever social media website you use? Why do you tweet/update your status on Facebook?
Also, feel free to add me on Twitter! 🙂
Good luck with your final papers guys, I will miss this class so much ❤

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One Response to @beccacrawford_ and My Imagined Audience

  1. marijkelarge says:

    @BeccaAnneCrawford thanks for sharing. #WGST4812a #Carleton

    I also plan on continuing my blog. Wooo. Wooo. I look forward to continuing to read your blog and maybe continuing to comment!

    I really enjoyed how you used Boyd and Marwicks article to question some of the other theorists we have read throughout the semester

    Just as you took a moment to explain your own experience on twitter, I will as well. I joined twitter last year as a requirement for my third year multimedia class. Twitter is used for controlled news and information gathering, for both reporters and citizen journalists, who are aiming to affect social change or get there stories out to a more widespread audience. So, it was important that I joined.

    I will briefly share my twitter profile, just as you shared yours. It reads: aspiring journalist, lover of the arts, feminist and environmental activist. Just like you I follow more people than follow me, the ration being 75:57 and to date, I have tweeted 68 times.

    You ask, why do I tweet? I use my twitter account, as I feel that I am expected to tweet and almost have to tweet to ensure my future success. As a potential journalist, or someone who will work in an environment that uses social media platforms as means to an end, frankly, I feel as if my potential to get a job will decrease if I don’t have an active and interesting twitter account. Currently, this is the main purpose of my twitter account.

    A secondary purpose relates to my current role as a journalism student. Twitter works as a vehicle for news gathering as it allows me to create networks and find a vast amount of information and potential sources from that network. I have tweeted at sources, asking for an interview on several occasions.

    So, in response to your second question, “who is your imagined audience, regardless of whatever social media website you use?” On twitter, future employers, friends and family. On Facebook, my friends and family from near and far.

    But, if I take into consideration Markwick’s and Boyd’s idea of the ‘context collapse,’ then I am aware that my grandmother, friend’s aunt or an employer could be occupying that space.

    Taking what I perceive my future ‘imagined audience’ to be, I consequently tweet in a certain way. I limit what I reveal about my personality and myself to fulfill my perceived expectations of who is watching or following me. Sounds kind of odd, eh?!

    So, in a sense, I am using twitter to get a ‘virtual applause’ (flashback to the Manago et al article) from future employers. Technology has allowed me to get this kind of attention? Or, do you think I would also be able to get this kind of response offline as well?

    Taking this vast, unpredictable ‘imagined’ audience into consideration, as Boyd argues, I will have to continuously remind myself that what I tweet, has the potential to be permanent.

    Therefore, I believe my twitter personality is a small aspect my actual personality. Check out fellow blogger, Chrisroud for another interesting analysis of the relation between social media, ones identity and your imagined audience.

    I agree with you when you say that twitter has the potential to create social change. Why?! As Castells argues, communication is vital to any issue that we wish to change in society. Media is a social space where power is decided. In my case, though I am one tweeter of many, and have a small twitter following, I still recognize that I have the potential to reach a vast and influential audience. So, really, I am practicing the art of mass self-communication. Just as you mentioned, Castells says these self-generated, self-directed acts have the potential to reach a potentially global audience.

    Thanks to Fuchs and the insight I have garnered from your blogpost, I consider my ‘potentiality’ to be vast, by my current ‘actuality’ to be limited in scope. In actuality, as I have a small twitter following and am not an expert in how to strategically tweet, my potential to reach and influence many, is currently small.

    How do you make your potential into something actual online? I am in no means an expert, But I have witnessed and read about three steps that contribute to ones ability to spread their message on twitter. As, users must be creative within the bounds of the code of social media.

    1. Crowdsource – ask you twitter followers to participate in your initiative.

    2. Create a Hashtag – enables you to form a community around your cause

    3. Promote – the media often will cover your cause if you promote it. Alert your local media, asking them to participate using their own twitter feed.

    As I’ve discussed, Twitter has the potential to foster awareness and create social change because it is fast, open and fosters a two-way communication stream. But how smoothly does this online awareness translate to the offline world?!

    The online/offline divide opens up another can of worms, that I would love to hear your thoughts about!

    PS. Good luck applying to teachers college!

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