Three Minute Thesis (3MT) 2013 QUT winner – Megan Pozzi


Parents and teachers have become increasingly
concerned about girls following the 2006 advent of Facebook. It’s been blamed for a rise in bullying and
a decline in social skills. My research however takes a slightly different
approach and looks at three things: grade 8 girls; identity; and Facebook’s most commonly
used feature — status updates. It’s based on a simple and age-old premise
— if all the world’s a stage, then surely Facebook is just another stage on which actors
can perform. And what do all actors want? Desirable reactions from their audiences. This involves trying a number of different
strategies on for size. Should I present myself as kind, needy, self-sacrificial,
talented, intimidating? So dramaturgical metaphor in hand, I set about
answering two questions. First, which of these strategies are grade
8 girls using in their status updates? And second, how and why are grade 8 girls
using their status updates more broadly? I used a mixed-methods approach, and 349 surveys,
9 interviews and 445 status updates later, I had some answers. I collected updates ranging from “Long weekend,
yay!” to “Piss off!” to “How do people just have sex with complete strangers, I can’t
even order pizza over the phone”. And I coded these status updates according
to the strategies these girls were using to present themselves. While you would expect that bullying and attention-seeking
would rate highly, they didn’t. Girls most commonly present themselves as
likable, by using flattery and compliments. And this is exactly what happens in offline
settings. You see girls need to maintain synergy between
their online and offline identities. Why? Because everything you say on Facebook
can be used against you in the court of social approval. When I asked the girls why they updated their
own statuses, they said “Oh, just to let other people know what I’m doing if I’m bored”,
but when I asked them why other people updated their statuses, they said “She’ll just do
anything to get attention, she just wants the boys to like her”. This might explain why more than 30% of the
girls in my study reported updating their statuses at least once per day. Because status updates will be interpreted
differently by every audience member, identities are in a constant state of flux. Identity becomes less a question of “Who am
I?” and more a question of “What do you see in me? What do you want in me?”. My research challenges the fearful notion
of an authentic offline identity and an inauthentic online identity. It shows that, like the classroom, Facebook
is just another space for girls to experiment with their identities, and gauge the reactions
of others. So, if there’s one message we should be sending
to grade 8 girls on Facebook — know your audience. Thank you.

About the author

Comments

  1. There are girls on fb o_0. Awesome. I'm gonna do some research. Yer, you cant hide urself, not if you update every few mins. tut fb. i'm gonna tweet that.

  2. Great speech, I just wondering 3 minutes competition is it just 3 min max right? I noticed that this was more than 3 min, is that permitted?

  3. my lecturer recommended me her video and woww no wonder she got the first place. it was brief but very informative and i like her way of presenting it.

  4. thanks for doing this: but my god, you packed so much into the 3 minute – and you did over act in a few places – but overall I liked it – confidence was what stood out for me

  5. Parents and teachers have become increasingly concerned about girls following the 2006 advent of Facebook. It's been blamed for a rise in bullying and a decline in social skills. My research however takes a slightly different approach and looks at three things: grade 8 girls; identity; and Facebook's most commonly used feature — status updates.

    It's based on a simple and age-old premise — if all the world's a stage, then surely Facebook is just another stage on which actors can perform. And what do all actors want? Desirable reactions from their audiences. This involves trying a number of different strategies on for size. Should I present myself as kind, needy, self-sacrificial, talented, intimidating? So dramaturgical metaphor in hand, I set about answering two questions.

    First, which of these strategies are grade 8 girls using in their status updates? And second, how and why are grade 8 girls using their status updates more broadly? I used a mixed-methods approach, and 349 surveys, 9 interviews and 445 status updates later, I had some answers. I collected updates ranging from "Long weekend, yay!" to "Piss off!" to "How do people just have sex with complete strangers, I can't even order pizza over the phone". And I coded these status updates according to the strategies these girls were using to present themselves. While you would expect that bullying and attention-seeking would rate highly, they didn't. Girls most commonly present themselves as likable, by using flattery and compliments.

    And this is exactly what happens in offline settings. You see girls need to maintain synergy between their online and offline identities. Why? Because everything you say on Facebook can be used against you in the court of social approval. When I asked the girls why they updated their own statuses, they said "Oh, just to let other people know what I'm doing if I'm bored", but when I asked them why other people updated their statuses, they said "She'll just do anything to get attention, she just wants the boys to like her". This might explain why more than 30% of the girls in my study reported updating their statuses at least once per day. Because status updates will be interpreted differently by every audience member, identities are in a constant state of flux.

    Three Minute Thesis (3MT) 2013 QUT winner – Megan Pozzi

    Identity becomes less a question of "Who am I?" and more a question of "What do you see in me? What do you want in me?". My research challenges the fearful notion of an authentic offline identity and an inauthentic online identity. It shows that, like the classroom, Facebook is just another space for girls to experiment with their identities, and gauge the reactions of others.

    So, if there's one message we should be sending to grade 8 girls on Facebook — know your audience. Thank you.

  6. This presentation is great. I am practising for my project presentation and I can't even stand without shaking >.<

  7. Great 3MT! I hoped she had published her research; couldn't find it, but did find her thesis if others are also interested: https://eprints.qut.edu.au/69333/

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