For this reflection point, we are asked to write a paragraph about our social media profile portrait and to consider which aspects of ourselves remain hidden. We are also asked to produce a more honest portrait, which I will do as an addendum to this post. (I need to think through what is missing first)
I found this to be an interesting exercise. Looking at my Facebook profile, I seem to have put up 50+ self portraits in the 9 years I have belonged to the site. There are flowers, holidays and special events there, but also a lot of close-up images of me, usually smiling in a slightly jokey situation. Other people who feature include my parents, my husband and one or two friends. In three, I am drinking wine, and several are old images of myself from my younger days. The Me they show looks sociable and fun – a person who enjoys life. In only one, do I look serious (the one with the single eye) but even then I am not giving much away. Together, the images probably don’t give an honest representation of who I am, truth be told. They are probably more representative of who I would like to be.
I then watched the first of Grayson Perry’s Channel 4 documentaries on making portraits of people, linked here , which made me reconsider what Identity might actually mean. Perry interviews four different people at length, all of whom are going through a period of great personal change, and tries to pick out some of their unique, individual qualities. It was fascinating to watch, and the end results were beautiful. In three cases, he made objects that the sitter felt expressed them clearly. In one, he admitted that he found it impossible to crack through the carapace the person had constructed around themselves, but nonetheless produced a very fine piece of work to represent the difficulties he had. I’ll say no more about it in case others want to watch the programme themselves. I will write a separate post about my thoughts on the programme’s messages.
A fellow student has suggested I read Goffmann’s The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, so that has been added to my reading list, but my initial thoughts are that one’s public persona probably has little to do with a) who we think we are, and b) how others perceive us to be.
Edited to add, after a few days contemplation:
I did think about putting up the image of my desk as a self portrait, but felt it was a bit of a cop-out in the end. Instead, I took the image below, which is from a series of experiments I am doing for the OCA project What does a student look like? I think it shows a more honest version of me – the serious person I usually am when I am not smiling for the camera, and also wearing the glasses I find myself using more and more these days.
Is this the person other people see though, or how I perceive myself as being seen by them?
Grayson Perry: Who Are You? Episode 1 [television programme online] Pres. Perry. Channel 4 (2014) 48 mins. At: http://www.channel4.com/programmes/grayson-perry-who-are-you/on-demand/55337-001 (Accessed on 20 May 2016)