My wife is a borderline obsessive reader of the New York Times. When she gets behind certain sections of it pile up around the house. But in the end all of it gets read. Some of it she clips and puts on my desk where it also piles up but in the end all of it, too, gets read.
Hence my late discovery of this interesting essay from July with the title, "I Tweet, Therefore I Am." The essay refrences a forthcoming book by Sherry Turkle at MIT. In it Turkle talks about how posts to Facebook or Twitter gradually take on the character of a performance, an identify constructed for consumption by other people. Not really your true self. She reminds us of how the sociological masterwork The Lonely Crowd described the transformation of Amercian culture from inner-directed to outer-directed and how social media has sped that up. Hence the title of this post, a quote from Turkle.
As any pioneer on the bleeding edge of the NewMR will tell you, we have embraced the basic tenant of behavioral economics that says people don't always do what they say they will do or can even explain after the fact why they did what they did. This makes working with survey data a bit challenging, to say the least. But by the same token, if people we listen to in social media are not true selfs but selfs constructed for our consumption, it raises some pretty significant challenges for working with social media information.
Or, to put it in terms a survey geek can understand we might say: Twitter is social desireaiblity on steroids.