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mediated personalities

A lot of people have been talking about how they use thier journals, recently. About meaningful content vs memes vs bland recountings of daily events.

When his blog was active, William Gibson talked a fair bit about mediated personalities - how sometimes he was surprised to encounter the mediated William Gibson, and how different that person was from the self he usually related to.

What we do when we write in our livejournals is creating a mediated personality of our own - we shape how our readers see us when we pick and choose the thoughts and events in our life to write about.

If you ever thought telepathy would solve the world's problems, look at livejournal more closely - when people can read what other people are thinking, what's bugging them, etc., we tend to get Drama. As LJers progress, many of them begin to more heavily censor thier journals to avoid Drama. This tends to mean posting less about intensely personal feelings and experiences, which in turn mediates the personality that readers experience.

The person you all know as curgoth is not exactly the same person I think of as me.

(this may be what happens when I start reading more non-fiction humanities books, and drinking caffeine.)


( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 7th, 2005 07:25 pm (UTC)
Great topic. I've been thinking about it too. I want to use your "this post is not about you" disclaimer if I might...

I don't think that Drama necessarily comes from an unmediated personality either. I think this medium can, for many, encourage heights of Drama that they would never reach on their own. The "dramatic" personality can be just as much of a construct as the "restrained" personality you talk about, both because they're still holding some things back, and in the other direction because the culture and the medium may push them to excesses beyond what they actually feel.

For example, they may deliberately be fishing for stuff to post about, and they may not care about the things they talk about nearly as much as they seem to. Or they may be consciously using their LJ to blow off steam and exaggerating because it feels good. Or they may be using it to try out a concept or a way of thinking. Or they may be attention-seeking, or looking for reinforcement from friends, so they push things a bit.

Jun. 8th, 2005 02:00 am (UTC)
Hmm... So, Lj creates Drama because of how it mediates personality? I'll buy that. The medium tends to encourage some things to come out that don't IRL, and yet encourage other things to be held back. Tie that into lack of visual/physical cues, and you have a recipe for Drama.
Jun. 14th, 2005 02:36 pm (UTC)
The anonymity of text (even if the readers know who you are) allows people to say things they might normally not. Now, as a result of the drama-generating I have done (yes, on occasion purposefully), my usual tendancy is to "mediate" my own personality, often not replying to things I would have done IRL.

night__watch is, in general, a toned-down, more cautious version of myself who occasionally slips into full-blown Conradian ranting.

And yeah, I've argued against text as an effect medium for emotional conversation, but sometimes its lack of facial expression is good for defusing a tense situation.
Jun. 7th, 2005 09:06 pm (UTC)
I don't think Telepathy would solve the world's problems. Just my own. ;)

Interesting concepts, I will ponder.
Jun. 8th, 2005 02:02 am (UTC)
It would depend, I think, on how much control there was over the telepathy.
Jun. 8th, 2005 05:54 am (UTC)
> when people can read what other people are thinking, what's bugging them, etc., we tend to get Drama

I said almost this exact thing to someone today. :)

Okay, and now off to tangent-land. Bear with me, it's late and I might be rambling. *g* LJ is an interactive medium -- we post, others comment. Unfortunately people are more likely to comment on 'extremes' -- thoughts and statements that reflect peaks of emotion -- than on more mundane 'balanced' posts. And why does it matter that people comment? Well, comments reinforce posting behaviour...especially since few people (in my experience) ever comment with blunt responses like "you're full of sh*t" or "geez, would you take this offline?" We're more likely to get "(hugs)" and suchlike. These positive responses encourage dramatic posts, whereas low-commented 'balanced' posts get less reinforcement. Does this make sense? After all, comments are our only proof that anyone's reading (i.e., paying attention to us).

Hmmmm...maybe we need to encourage and offer better feedback, if we want different types of posts?

And also, if we want to present a more realistic image of ourselves online, do we need to make an effort to post the everyday mundane in addition to the extremes?

Oh yeah, it's late, and I'm rambling. Sorry, I'll stop now. :)
Jun. 8th, 2005 11:20 pm (UTC)
This makes a lot of sense. And I can see it in the way I post, and in the way that I respond to posts...

Much to ponder.
Jun. 14th, 2005 02:42 pm (UTC)
Well, comments reinforce posting behaviour

A good point. When I read about someone else's trauma, that response (*hugs*) seems appropriate... like by not saying anything, I'm not acknowledging/sympathizing with them.

people are more likely to comment on 'extremes'

This certainly seems to be the case in most of my posts. Though within a certain range -- often my "real" posts, the hard-hitting introspection -- they garner almost *no* response. Intriguing.

I think it's when someone else's buttons are hit, regardless if the post in question has anything to do with them. Button-hitting is pretty easy in a textual medium, too.
Jun. 14th, 2005 10:19 pm (UTC)
Oh, oh, oh
This is one of the things I am most, most interested in. Come to my house. Drink scotch. We will be impossibly erudite! (You can even assign me a reading list!)
Jun. 14th, 2005 10:21 pm (UTC)
Re: Oh, oh, oh
Invite others, for that matter. It can be the subject of one of our 'salons'. But then somebody else might have to bring the Scotch.
Jun. 15th, 2005 01:21 am (UTC)
Re: Oh, oh, oh
Sounds like a good idea - now, who do I know with several bottles of scotch... (wait, I know - me!)
Jan. 17th, 2008 12:35 pm (UTC)
thanks you peopels.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )

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