My Online Personae

My personae begins

On leaving my protected family world at age five I began school, made friends and joined community groups.

Photo 9-12-17, 1 01 05 pm
Leonie Vernon. Grade 1. Photo: Unknown School Photo Services. My new persona: STUDENT


Thus I developed various roles or personae, with characteristics changing: family member, student, friend, community participant and evolving as I advanced through childhood, adulthood to my senior years.

Erving Goffman likens ‘social roles’ to acting. In Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (p24), he claims ‘when an individual appears before others he will … control the impression they receive of the situation’. He defines such as a ‘performance’ and a ‘social role will involve one or more parts and that each of these parts may be presented by the performer’ (Goffman 1959).

Similarly P.D.Marshall describes the term ‘Persona’ as coming from Latin for mask, in dramatic productions (Marshall & Moore 2015); redefined by Jung’s (p167) psychoanalytical approach as “identity … derived from the collective experience of the individual as they respond to the world and the people with which they are regularly interacting”. (Jung 1966)

In my working career, I adapted my persona to employees, to colleagues and clients. In such professional life, Barbour and Marshall describe five distinct academic persona: formal which is static (Curriculum Vitae); public (networking with colleagues); teaching (engagement with students); comprehensive (includes personal); and uncontainable (projection by others). (Barbour 2012)

Finding my true self

I seldom thought I changed to suit roles, nor considered my true self.  However, in a reflective period I explored factors that made ‘me’ including being an introvert, as old as I am; and roles in childhood, adulthood; motherhood; my evolution to community activism; and searching for my inner self outside those roles. It is ironic this reflection was made on a blog under a pseudonym.

In perception of true self, Marmiott and Buchanan explored the issue of personality online where shyness was found to be positively associated with perceiving online as ‘real me’. There may be aspects of our ‘true self’ easier to express online; especially for shy people. However, the research found authentic aspects were not presented differently offline and online. (Marriott 2014)

From Offline to Online

As technology advanced from pen, paper, telephone, radio and television; to copiers, fax machines and tapes; to a digital world of computers, iPods, mobile phones; to the internet providing global connections; so too did the way I embraced the mediums. As passive consumer; my world widened from local to national to international streaming any time of day on any medium. From one-on-one connections; to group connections; on to global connections through social media. My artistic life moved from pen to ink-press and copiers; to enhanced creations using computers; to full productions of slideshows and creative blogging. Voice mediums moved from tapes to mastered podcasts.

I have summarised the evolution of my own online persona through varying mediums as consumer; for connection, creativity and community activism in my slide-share ‘My Journey To Online’.

Expression of Self 

While I do not believe online communications has increased my number of roles; it has increased the depth of creativity and contributions within those personae and my expression of my inner beliefs as aspects of true self.

In aspects of personality, Gosling et al (p483) determined both frequency of use and level of engagement in social media platforms such as Facebook™ was higher in extroverts, just as offline extroverts seek out higher social engagement. (Gosling et al. 2011)

Bullingham and Vasconcelo conducted research exploring Goffmans’ concepts and how they applied to online identities. The research showed (p1): in “the process of whole persona adoption, participants were keen to create their offline self, online; but engaged in editing facets of self.” They likened that to Goffman that when in “front stage” people tend to deliberately chose to project a given identity. (Bullingham & Vasconcelo 2012)

My Current Personae

My current online personae are that of nutritionist, student, writer and activist.
My interest in nutrition crosses each of those personae.
I present differently whether engaging as educator, student, writer, or activist. The way I engage online is as a consumer of information; connecting with others across those personae; using online tools to create dialogue, educational material, podcasts, slide-shows, and videos; and to be active in areas of my beliefs and concerns in an attempt to drive change.

Nutritionist Educator

I have a degree in nutrition, I did research on food sensitivities, and I have experience in nutrition consulting. Although life then went in a different direction for over a decade, I have now returned to this field. I have used the online world in setting up a professional profile on About.Me,  Linked-In; and I am developing a WordPress website.

My aim for my nutrition website is to provide information and explore the scientific literature to support my discussions. I have written an introductory post and used my twitter profile to link to the post.

I received two replies within minutes of posting this, only one of which was me.

The world of twitter has allowed instant feedback on discussions, with like-minded professionals, and access to global experts in their field.

One of my aims is to provide information on food environments and having the awareness that social pressure is one of those food environments.

Student of Nutrition

As a Student of Nutrition, my main connection with tutors and fellow students has been via Deakin Online. I have been a consumer of information through the internet, PubMed, Google Scholar, and Deakin Library. This has enabled instant access to information that previously would have taken weeks to procure. My creativity has been enhanced by EndNote; uploading; podcasts and videos. I have engaged on Twitter in a learning capacity and have been able to request information from experts in their field, from Universities far afield. Here are two screen shots.

tweet examples (2)

tweet examples (3)


Nutrition Activist

As an activist my interests lie in denouncing marketing of unhealthy foods to children, conflict of interest in research, and the portrayal of unhealthy food as part of a balanced diet. In activism one needs to become known and care needs to be taken as to persona portrayed.

In an examination of celebrities’ use of social media P.D.Marshall describes social media as ‘a form of presentation of the self … hybrid among the personal, interpersonal and the mediated“. Previously augmented by the press, celebrity persona is increasingly handled by themselves through three persona: Public Self (factual information), Private Public Self (some exposure to private thoughts especially by twitter which allows ‘short textual bursts’ yet still a constructed version); and ‘Transgressive Intimate Self’ (motivated by temporary emotion that may be ‘appropriate for one’s closest friends’ but ultimately with the capacity to be passed on to millions). (Marshall 2010)

Student of Online Communication


As a student of Online Communications, connections have been through Deakin Online, weekly Zoom sessions, Twitter and the Twitter Hashtag #ALC708. There has been much contact and immediate feedback which is outstanding. My knowledge of copyright has improved, and all things technological has accelerated. I am now hyperlinking correctly, embedding tweets, uploading photos, taking and uploading screen-shots, editing photos, setting up blog pages, and online profiles. Ready for upcoming units, I set up a sound cloud and YouTube account, downloading assignments from Trimester 2.

Using Pikochart, I created an infographic that summarises My Online Personae; my online creative development; the interactions between my various online accounts, what Personae I use them with, and my use in personal life; and lastly those causes I feel strongly about to make a contribution towards.



Leonie Elizabeth Online personae. Photo credit. Dale Cumming.

Author: Leonie Elizabeth

(Word Count: 1203)

Barbour, KM, David 2012, ‘The Academic Online: Construction persona through the World Wide Web’, First Monday, vol. 17, no. 9.

Bullingham, L & Vasconcelo, AC 2012, ”The presentation of self in the online world’: Goffman and the study of online identities ‘, Journal of Information Science, vol. XX, no. X, pp. 1-12.

Goffman, E 1959, ‘Presentation of Self in Everyday Life’, in Doubleday, New York.

Gosling, SD, Augustine, AA, Vazire, S, Holtzman, N & Gaddis, S 2011, ‘Manifestations of Personality in Online Social Networks: Self-Reported Facebook-Related Behaviors and Observable Profile Information’, Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw., vol. 14, no. 9, pp. 483–8.

Jung, KG 1966, ‘Two essays on analytical psychology. 2nd edition. Translated by R.F.C.Hull. Princeton, N.J.:Princton University Press’, Cited by Marshall, P.D. Persona as Method:Exploring celebrity and the public self through persona studies. Celebrity Studies. vol 6, no.3, pp. 288-305 2015.

Marriott, TB, Tom 2014, ‘The True Self Online: personality correlates of preference for self-expression online, and observer ratings of personality online and offline’, Computers in Human Behavior, vol. 32 pp. 171-7.

Marshall, PD 2010, ‘The promotion and presentation of the self: celebrity as marker of presentational media’, Celebrity Studies, vol. 1, no. 1.

Marshall, PD & Moore, CB, Kim 2015, ‘Persona as method: exploring celebrity and the public self through persona studies’, Celebrity Studies, vol. 6, no. 3, pp. 288-305.


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