The Looking Glass Lens: Self-concept Changes Due to Social Media Practices
Keywords:YouTube, self-concept, looking glass self, self-presentation, vlogs, vloggers, selfies
This study brought an enduring social psychology theory into the era of mass self-communication. Cooley’s (1902) looking glass self posits that the self-concept is built, in part, by how a person sees him- or herself and, in part, by the reaction of others. For social media producers, neither the reflection nor others’ judgment needs to be imagined. Digital media can serve as a mediated mirror and social media sites provide the space where others’ judgments are clearly posted. YouTube producers were asked if they had come to see themselves differently since posting to the mega-media site and, if so, how. Forty-six participants reported self-concept changes ranging from being more accepting of their physical appearance to gaining confidence from overcoming the sting of negative comments to being empowerment due to a new role within a global, digital environment. The combination of media and media sharing platforms can serve as a digital looking glass lens.
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