First, consider the following: If you had a picture that revealed the way you think and feel about yourself, what would that image look like? What would others think and feel about you if they saw it? You can think about self-concept as the picture made up of everything about yourself: your likes, dislikes, emotional states, talents, interests, even your physical appearance. Your picture will also include what you believe others think and feel about you. Usually, these additions are others’ observations of your behaviors or accomplishments. Sound familiar? Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are platforms we use to display (and in many ways construct) our self-concepts. But social media only shows part of our self-concept because people tend to share only positive things about themselves on social media sites. In an article for InsideHigherEd.com, Lisa Lebduska described the Facebook phenomenon this way: “Facebook must be recognized for what it is — a medium that invites carefully polished reflections of our favorite self.” If self-concept is the picture, self-esteem is what you feel when you look at that picture. Self-esteem is not about the picture itself, but about self-worth. Do you feel “good” or “bad” about yourself? Are you happy, disappointed, satisfied? Ultimately, the way you “see yourself” shapes how you communicate about yourself with others. So, what does your social media profile say about you? How do you feel about your online profile? What do you want it to say about you? Answer any or all questions. As with all graded discussions, be sure to apply (refer to) specific concepts in the text, especially from this week’s reading. As with all graded work, clearly distinguish borrowed ideas or words from your own ideas or words; properly cite any quotes or paraphrases, even if they are from assigned textbook reading. Your goal to connect with classmates, to practice group communication, and to apply the study of mediated communication and perception, exploring how our self-concept influences the way others decode our messages. Here are some questions to get you started; feel free to go beyond these: What sort of social media pages do you have? Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter…? When and why did you create these sites? What/how do you typically share on these sites? Likes, photos, status updates, links? What’s the narrative you have constructed about yourself on the Internet? What does each site “say” about you? How would you describe your privacy settings? How would you feel if your professor/parent/employer visited your page? How do you want to present yourself online?
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