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. The book analyzes how people present themselves differently according to the situation that they encounter, showing that people often have multiple selves that they present throughout their daily life. 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 is a unique environment in which different protocols and expectations govern behavior. With the rise of virtual presentation and aggregated identity platforms (such as facebook) this dynamic becomes more troublesome. It used to be that there were many different contexts that one "acted" in, such as school, work, friends, parents. But when we construct our virtual selves we must take all of these situations into account and aggregate our identities into a cohesive and palatable whole. Thus one has to simultaneously account for prospective employers, friends, and family when creating a Facebook profile.


  1. Goffman, Erving. The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. Doubleday Anchor Books. 1959.