As a narrative analysts, I am fascinated by stories, especially those we tell about who we are. These stories serve to represent ourselves to the world around us as well as provide a tool to make sense of our place in the worlds we inhabit.
Giddens (1990) suggests that self-identity is not a set of traits or observable characteristics, but rather a person’s own reflexive understanding of their biography (53). Linde (1993) refers to the such everyday narrative acts as “life stories” in which people make sense of their sense of self through the act of telling stories about who they are to others. She points out that our life story is not static, but always evolving as we tell new stories. Thus, people re-story the self with each new telling.
It should be noted that these storytelling practices do not happen in isolation such that our sense of self is defined solely by the stories we want to tell. Instead, identity is co-constructed through narrative practices, with our identity being defined in storytelling acts that rely on the interaction between the storyteller and the listener, as they negotiate meaning through telling, listening, and conversing–re-storying the self collaboratively.
When considering the case of online dating, stories about the self are an integral aspect of the communicative practices that lead to connection, as demonstrated by the advertisement for the Okcupid website. As people opt to enter the online dating world, the first step is to set up a profile–a digital life story, so to speak, that is adapted to the technological constraints of each platform.
These m/e-stories are multimodal–integrating text, image, and technology–to represent and communicate a desirable self. This self-branding through multimodal stories is fluid, often co-constructed, and intricately mediated by digital technology as my current research intends to show. Stay tuned…
Linde, C. (1993). Life stories: the creation of coherence. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.