While my blog is intended to be holistically personal and reflective of my online self, it also caters to specific audiences through the content I have produced and the site design itself. In the beginning stages of conceptualizing my personal cyberinfrastructure, I established that melatonin gone missing would be a space to showcase (word vomit about) my interests and opinions, essentially creating a window into my mind. This would be a case similar to what Erin Hollenbaugh describes as using social media to manage your self-presentation.
It felt important to me that my site was completely and authentically what I wanted it to be, rather than what I thought other people wanted to see. However, I’ve realized that in making content for me, I also simultaneously imagine the groups of people who might also like what I have to say.
Influencing My Content
When I am creating content for my blog, I find that I inadvertently address a range of audiences, which ultimately inspires what I produce. These imagined audiences tend to be post-specific since I write about a variety of things. Although, I am aware that many, if not most, of the topics I cover on my blog are connected to each other in a way that they could collectively be appreciated by people with a certain personality type. What I mean by this, for example, is that teenage girls like me who love to read romance novels are very likely to also love Taylor Swift. In other words, I could generalize this multiplicity of imagined audiences as simply “people like me”, which makes sense following the personal aims of my blog I previously mentioned.
Going back to how my post-specific imagined audiences influence my content, an example is when I wrote about Taylor Swift albums and cat breeds, I imagined Swifties (Taylor Swift fans) reading and responding to the post. Would they love it? Would they think I embodied Taylor accurately? Would they disagree with me and provide constructive criticism? Internal questions and predictions like these make me excited to create and publish content, because it’s as if I am getting the chance to satisfy these imagined audiences, or spark up a discussion with them about a shared interest. Sometimes, I am tempted enough to engage with my imagined audiences to the point where I deliberately show my posts to a friend or family member whom I consider to be a part of that audience, just to see them react to it, give feedback, or initiate a conversation about the subject matter. So, it seems that imagining an audience informs how I share my content, as well as just creating it.
Publics and Counterpublics
These imagined audiences represent the many publics and counterpublics I engage and identify with. The singular public sphere, according to Michael Warner, is composed of an infinite number of ‘smaller’ publics and counterpublics that people form their identities around and circulate discourse within. Counterpublics, specifically, represent perspectives and identities that oppose the views of dominant society. Swifties, for once, is a counterpublic that I strongly identify with and has developed through people wanting to interact with and feel seen by others with the same interest in Taylor Swift. The majority of publics/counterpublics I belong to and address as my imagined audiences have a few shared characteristics that heavily inform how I use my blog. Specifically, a young-adult age demographic and people who generally indulge in pop culture media entertainment. I think that belonging to and subconsciously addressing a public/counterpublic such as Swifties facilitates a type of safe and inviting communication that hopefully comes across in my posts. Warner captures this nicely in his description of publics using speech that is both personal and impersonal.
Influencing My Blog Design
Lastly, my imagined audiences also inform the aesthetic choices I have made, namely the intentional use of lowercase letters, the colour palate, and generally informal house style I have adopted. The publics and counterpublics I most identify with do not typically include pretentious critics who only consume media that is clean-cut and delivered in a professional tone. Instead, I imagine that any visitors to my blog would appreciate the relaxed and understated visuals, the aesthetically-pleasing minimalistic fonts, and the casual, conversational tone that carries throughout my blog. I make this generalization referencing how my publics/counterpublics consist of mostly of people around my age and fellow consumers of pop culture media, as I explained before. Imagining an audience like this feels validating and comforting, in a way, because it is less intimidating to be authentic when you can imagine there are groups of people who will very likely support and celebrate your creative liberties. This sense of acceptance mirrors some of the feelings of belonging to a counterpublic, which brings forward the question: has (or will) my blog generated its own counterpublic? It remains to be seen…
Campbell, G. (2009). A Personal Cyberinfrastructure. EDUCAUSE. https://er.educause.edu/articles/2009/9/a-personal-cyberinfrastructure
Fattal, A. (2018). Encyclopedia Entry — Counterpublic. UC San Diego. Retrieved from https://escholarship.org/uc/item/73t260cm
Hollenbaugh, E. E. (2021). Self-Presentation in Social Media: Review and Research Opportunities. Review of Communication Research, 9, 80-98. https://doi.org/10.12840/ISSN.2255-4165.027
Warner, M. (2002). Publics and Counterpublics (abbreviated version). Quarterly Journal of Speech, 88(4), 413-425.
Dot, T. A. •. (2016, March 2). How to prepare for public speaking. The A Dot. Retrieved February 8, 2023, from https://theadotblog.com/2016/03/02/how-to-prepare-for-public-speaking/