Goffman knowingly contradicted as a matter of

Goffman lived and wrote in the early to late 20th century,his sociological influences came before his time. There were two sociologicaltheorists in particular who influenced Goffman—Emile Durkheim (1858-1917) andGeorg Simmel (1858-1918).                  In1959 Erving Goffman has published “The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life” ,in which he argues that we as individuals take “roles” in everyday lifesituations. These everyday life situations are referred to as “acting stages”of the “roles” played by individuals. Gofman calls this “impressionmanagement”.

In other words, each of us are trying to present ourselves how wewant those around us to see us.                   Goffmanlays out the seven elements that create a performance: belief in the role thatis being played, the front or ‘mask’, dramatic realization, idealization, maintenanceof expressive control, misrepresentation, and deception/mystification.  Goffman further morespeaks about dramaturgical analysis. He was admittedly influenced by KennethBurke, who in 1945 presented dramatism, which he derived from Shakespeare. Burke’s dramatismcompares life to a play, laying out the course of human motives and humanrelations and answers the question of how and why people explain what they do.Elements of time, place, and audience all play a part to human interaction.

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Sense of self is who one is, a dramatic effect emerging from the scene beingpresented to the audience for consumption.                     Asa performer, the front stage act “is that part of the individual’s performancewhich regularly functions in a general and fixed fashion to define thesituation for those who observe the performance. Front, then, is the expressiveequipment of a standard kind intentionally or unwittingly employed by theindividual during his performance” (Goffman 1956:15). The front stage allowsthe actor to maintain a desired public image, which supports and defines hiscurrent social status and standing within society. Back stage becomes theopposite of the front, “defined as a place, relative to a given performance,where the impression fostered by the performance is knowingly contradicted as amatter of course” (Goffman 1956:69). Off stage performances occur with anaudience member on the individual level, while an actor may perform one way toan audience of multiple people, they will change that behavior when interactingprivately with only one member in the audience, in large part due to thesetting of the interaction. When “performing”, people are able to hidethings about themselves that may not be consistent with the rituals of theaudience.                             WhileGoffman’s theories regarding presentation of self, have been present withinsocieties throughout history, recent advancement of technology and access tosocial media has caused our society to change both the methods and frequencywith which we present ourselves to an intended audience.

With social mediasites easily accessible, as individuals we are no longer subject toperformances in primarily face-to-face interaction with the audience. With theemergence of Facebook and Twitter, among other social media websites, ouraudience has grown larger and is given greater access to our performances viathe Internet.              Anyonewith an online presence practices dramaturgy in some form of fashion. We takeflatteringly angled photos and post them on Facebook. We also use Facebook totell the world how we feel, either looking for praise or sympathy. We takephotographs of the high points of our lives and edit them and share them onInstagram. LinkedIn shares the highlights of our work history. Constantstreaming information is presented to us constantly from friends, family members,and occasionally strangers, but only the parts they (or we) want to share.

Wehide the rest, keeping it to ourselves, giving only the details we wish toshare.                 Usingsocial media we limit the amount of access an audience has to a performance.When we post a status or picture on Facebook for example, the audienceinterprets our performance in a very simplistic way, and is able to gatherinformation through only the two-dimensional screen they are looking at. Electroniccommunication and social media, thus becomes a tool towards the attainment ofwhat Goffman defines as effective impression management.                 Nathan Palmer states that the “selfie” is actually a manufacturedpresentation of self and he gives us 2 reason why he believes that. He noticedthat most people take selfies in locations that are noteworthy. It’s a way tosay “Hey everybody, look where is visited.

” The second thing he noticed is that, before you take a selfie you makesure your hair and clothes are looking good and then you make a face or “give alook” to the camera. Next he gives us an example, the ridiculous trend ofmaking selfies with a “duck face”. (NathanPalmer, 2014)      Furthermore healso thinks that “the point of impression management and the presentation ofself is that you are not really the person you present yourself to be in aselfie pic or on social media. That version of you is only part of the story.Each of us leaves out our low moments, the pictures that make us look ugly,and, for the most part, the struggles we face every day.

”                     In my opinion social media platforms  impact a performance in two major ways. First,they allow the actor to have far greater control over their appearance, and theperformance as a whole, by planning and reviewing information before they postit, in turn allowing the actor to conceal undesirable characteristics moreeasily. Second, as a result of this increase in control over the performance,the audience can become confused or mislead during the performance. To extendthese issues to a contemporary example, consider the issue of online dating inthe context of a performance.

Consider a person creates a profile on a publicdating site, but includes fake information and pictures of someone else,leading another member on the site to believe that person is someone else.Using the website as the setting of the performance, the actor in possession ofthe fake profile is able to effectively alter their appearance and the changethe manner of their behavior. This widens the gap between the front stage(visible profile page) and the back stage (true identity) performances, andbecomes problematic, causing confusion within the audience. During aface-to-face interaction, the audience has the opportunity to formulate theirown thoughts and opinions based on their observation of the real-time visualand auditory information they are experiencing.

Through the use of social mediahowever, the audience is restricted to formulating their conclusions basedsolely on the visual and written information the actor chooses to provide.Through careful preparation the actor is able to present only the most positiveand most desirable aspects of their identity (or false identity). In the mostextreme cases, these interactions can become dangerous when sexually abusiveadults pose online as children in order to lure them into harmful orpotentially life threatening situations.                    Inconclusion society changes and technology advances, the methods and frequencyof social interaction will undoubtedly change with it. Yet, no matter howdrastic these changes, Goffman’s conceptualizations of presentation of selfwithin social interaction will hold true.

As long as social interaction occursbetween people, Goffman’s ideas will remain present. The challenge lays in ourinterpretation these of concepts, and our effective, or ineffective,application of them to everyday life.


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