Presentation of Self in Digital Life

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This term references the seminal sociology study, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life by Erving Goffman. about how people present themselves differently according to the situation that they encounter. For instance, a worker might act one way on a construction site, another way with his family, and another way at the bar.[1] Each situation provides an environment for one to act differently. In addition, a schism exists when one acts in a way that does not fit in with the environment.[2]

One example is how a teacher acts in front of students vs. other teachers. If a teacher acts differently from a prescribed and expected role in front of a student, then the boundaries of the presentation of self are violated and a schism occurs.

Presentation of Self in Digital Life

There have been related schisms online based on the fact that adults communicated in a certain way to adults than they do with children, and children act towards their peers in a different way than they do with adults. When Facebook did not respect the boundaries between these different types of people and actors, a schism formed between the groups and participants in Facebook felt as if their privacy had been violated.


  1. Goffman, Erving. The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. Doubleday Anchor Books. 1959.
  2. Paddy UX at Google: The Real Life Social Network presentation on Slideshare