Recently, there has been an outburst in the usage of social media sites by people all over the world which have necessitated the integration of performance studies to help us understand the dynamics of this new craze.  According to Pearson, (2009), all the users of social media are performers who take their roles through codes and signs that are articulated during their interactions with other users. As such, social media creates a sense of presence without the communicators being in actual physical contact or close proximity. The users only need the internet, their hands, eyes, and a bit of skill to participate in this new form of social interaction (Markham, 2012). Social media sites such as Facebook have brought in both positive and negative impacts to the way we interact with others. In a positive light, sites like Facebook have enabled people to keep in touch with long lost friends, promotes and enables long distance relationships among others (Markham, 2012). However, they also have been attributed to negative outcomes which affect many users as well.
Pearson (2009) notes that one of the most controversial yet crucial tools that the users emphasize on is the type of identity that they adopt in the sites. The identity of the user on social media sites is an important feature as it acts as their gateway to the following users who interact with them. It enables people to form relationships regardless of the physical abilities and location but mainly their thoughts and personality. As such, many individuals do not portray their real characters and even appearances as they alter and modify this to suit an identity that will create interest and attraction to other users in the sites. The presentation of an individual in the sites is a deliberative action which can be enhanced by other cues such as uploading videos, images, and audio recordings which embody the user more (Markham, 2012). The most important thing for a performer is to get a response from other online people.
Interaction on social media sites is comparable to stage performance whereby the users are the actors. The stage for the users has both a front-stage and backstage platform for them to interact on (Pearson, 2009). Pearson describes the front-stage performance as one which the users interact with all the individuals that are present in the general public hence is more explicit since they do not really know each other. On the other hand, the backstage performance entails the interaction between familiar individuals and is more intimate and private in nature. All the same, for an active user, they usually perform in both kinds of stages and are able to contribute to the public as well as private forums.
The usage of social media as a means of interaction has had a number of negative consequences to the users. It has been used to spread some evil and harmful vices from evil-minded performers. For instance, a user in a certain community, who was identified as ‘Mr. Bungle’, used the social media to display himself performing a violent rape scene to two victims (Markham, 2012). All the same, the social media sites continue to grow and attract more users all over the world.
Pearson, E. (2009). Performing identity and performance. First Monday.
Markham, A. (2012). Interaction in digital contexts: persistent characteristics.