Creating a Self-Image : Face-Work and Identity Construction Online
In this article, we build on research arguing that linguistic self-representation on social media can be viewed as a form of face-work and that the strategies employed by users are influenced by both a desire to connect with others and a need to preserve privacy. Drawing on our own analyses of usernames as well as that of others which were conducted as part of a large-scale project investigating usernames in 14 languages (Schlobinski/T. Siever 2018a), we argue that these conflicting goals of wanting to be recognised as an authentic member of an in-group while retaining a degree of anonymity are also observable in the choice of username. Online self-naming can thus be viewed as a key practice in the debate of face-work on social media platforms, because names and naming strategies can be studied more readily than broader and more complex aspects, such as stylistic variation or text-image interdependence, while at the same time forming part of these.