Impression Management

If you were to pick one aspect of your profile that you would like other people to see first when they visit, what would it be? How come? When looking at other people's profiles, where does your attention go?

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Respondent 2

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I: So people pose and say “Don’t put this on Facebook” or they might be like “Put this one on Facebook!” And people at parties – like I went to bomb night last night and they were taking pictures and my friend he was like he knew people were taking a picture that was gonna go up on Facebook so he went up next to them.  Stuff like that.  I try to make sure that – like I had a cup of water – and I don’t want people to get ideas.  And at CO’s they have clear drinks and stuff and they put a straw in it like the rest of the drinks, and people see that and say “She’s got a drink” and I gotta be like “it’s still water.” I’m still conscious, like Facebook is a big phenomenon, and I know that.  I know people who’s parents and stuff are on Facebook, so I like never want anybody to tag any perceptions of me, I know Facebook can just be face value and people might look you up.

J:Alright, we’re running a little short on time, so, I’ll jump to the next question set.  So if there were one thing you’d like people to see on your profile first, what would it be?

I:My religious views.

J:Okay, so what would you want that to indicate then?

I:I don’t know, I think that just, that’s one of the most important things to me, my religion and my race, so I would want them to see it, I try to give the right impression.  I try to really live the right way.

J: So when you’re looking at somebody else’s profile, where does your attention go?

I: Umb, to their religious view, that’s the first thing I looked at when I met my suitemate on Facebook, and she’s agnostic, she saw my page and said something like you must be rich because [garbled, sounds like “standin’ on ikea”], and I said no I’m just blessed, and she was like yeah I saw that on your Facebook page, we’re gonna have to talk about that. And I was like okay yeah I’m ready for you.

Respondent 3

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J: That’s an interesting question – your friend who gets messages all the time because she’s good looking—how does the picture element work on Facebook?  Every time you post there’s a little picture attached to it, do you think that influences things?

I:I think so. Like if that person looks, like ‘oh I don’t want to be close with that person’ I don’t think I’d be interacting with that person on Facebook that much.

J: So if there was a really ugly scary lookin’ person you’d be less likely to interact with them?

I:Unless I’m really close to that person in real life.

J: So there’s a first impression of the visual, the same way if you were to meet the person on the street?

I:Yeah, but sometimes the Facebook pictures are kind of like fake.  They’re kind of…

J:Well right people pick the best pictures – but isn’t there a way around that with tagging? Like their friend might tag pictures of them.  They could untag themselves, but they still might not have complete control.

I:Yes, but people look at your Facebook profile pictures a lot rather than going into their picture albums.  You’d have to be interested in that person to go into their albums, like I wouldn’t go into a person’s photos if I wasn’t interested in them.

J: So what do you look at when you visit another person’s page?

I:Sometimes their photos and… yeah.

J:What about wall or status, what else do you look at?

I:I ignore applications most of all, I don’t read people’s walls, I think that’s kinda private, I read people’s profiles a lot.

J: So like their interests and hobbies?

I:Yeah, especially if I’ve just met them.

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Respondent 4

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J: no, ok. Um and then on the note of the groups thing, are you very careful about like pruning groups that you don’t belong to or like listing the history of the groups?

I:I’m only in a couple and I think at most I was in 10 and then for some reason I thought 10 was too much so I left 5 of them so now I’m in 5 and I don’t know it kind of annoys me when people add every group and are in like 100 groups that they’re in because I don’t know I don’t want people reading through mine to try to figure out who I am, oh she’s in this ya know, pro-life whatever or just some something that sounds like archery but means pro-life

J: So you’re worried about the impressions a person might get based on your groups.

I:I guess so there’s so many groups and so many invites that I get. One day some person from high school will ask me to be part of like just another something that sounds like archery but means pro-life group like pro-life, and then ya know a week later, I’ll get a pro-choice one. So like, I can’t, instead of picking and choosing, I’ll just reject all of them.

J:You mentioned that you don’t want people getting the wrong impression from that. If somebody was gonna come visit your profile, if there was one thing that you wanted them to look at first, what would it be?

I:I don’t know, my profile is so, not bare, I guess that’s not the word I’d use to describe it, just I don’t list out a lot of things on it, and I don’t I know that people look at your profile, and I have that in mind, like, and I want everyone to see this, I mean, when the come, but I never constantly follow what people think when they read my information.

J:ok well you did at least anticipate for the group stuff.

I:yeah, I guess so.


J: so it might indicate more about their personality?

I:yeah and that’s why I don’t um I don’t know I guess like what I said about groups, I don’t want to add a group if just like oh that sounds kinda cool, I’ll add it and support it because if someone sees that and they’re like oh they don’t agree with me, I don’t want them to think that I’m like, if they didn’t already know something about me in real life, then I don’t think its something I need to tell them, like tell people on Facebook because if I actually support a cause or feel strongly about something then people that know me in real life will probably already know it and can think, that that’s just what I think.


J: when looking at somebody else’s profile, where does your attention usually go?

I:I think it depends. If it’s someone that if I know the friends of that person then sometimes the things on their wall the friends if I know who wrote it or I’ll wander through their pictures, but if I only know them then I’m not really interested in just random people um mostly pictures I guess. I like that you can share pictures on Facebook I think that’s probably one of my favorite things because I like looking at other people’s pictures that they otherwise probably wouldn’t send in an email or anything

J:have you ever untagged yourself in pictures?


J:have you ever tagged yourself?

I:no I don’t think so

J: So it’s only gone one way

I:yeah I don’t know I um like only having a couple pictures and usually they’re pretty bad so like new pictures that are tagged of me are pretty bad so I don’t really like having them tagged so I’ll untag them and then oh this happens a lot, someone will tag you in like a really embarrassing picture and you’ll untag yourself and then someone else will tag you in it and they’ll be like no like this is a really good picture, I’m taggin you and you’ll be like no I don’t want sort of like go back and forth and ridiculous. I’ll always win.

J: because what you have final say or you’re just more tenacious?

I:because you find out when you’re tagged but you don’t find out when someone untags you.

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Respondent 5

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J: So that actually reminds me of something.  Do you clean up your profile at all?  Like do you remove groups or information and keep it up to date?

I:Yeah, yeah, every once in a while I’ll go through all of the pictures I’ve been tagged in and I’ll remove the tag, because I’m like eww I don’t like that picture anymore or something. Or that doesn’t look good.

J:Is any part of your profile like a history of you, a track record?  Like some people join a lot of groups and leave them as a way of showing what they have done or what they used to be involved in.

I:Yeah, I know what you mean, I’ll join a group if it’s like, the people that I work with—they make a group, like I worked at [upscale clothing store] and we made an [upscale clothing store] group but I removed myself because I don’t work there anymore.


J: Well I know we’re out of time, but on that note – anyone, an authority or whoever could be looking at your profile at a given time, who do you think most of the people who look at your profile are?

I:Probably just mostly like my close friends, people in my sorority, and just like random people.  You never know—I didn’t know that person who I never met before would do that.  You kind of just have to censor what you do, you don’t want to put anything too embarrassing on there.

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Respondent 8

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J: So if you were to look at a person’s profile and see what groups they’re in, what might you learn from that?

I:You can learn their interests, you can see—lots of high schools have groups or something, yeah.

J:Okay, so then in terms of your groups, your group membership – are you a person who collects them, joins over time and then keeps them even if you’re not in them anymore or don’t care, or the type of person who prunes and gets rid of groups you don’t want to have to do with anymore.  Which one illustrates you better?

I:Pruning I guess, the only ones I’ve been in for a while are like the ones from my high school, like my music department which I was heavily involved in and everything.  But I’m other than that it’s mostly just U of I class of 2011 or whatever or one of the groups my friend started, stuff like that.


J: So going back to the profile thing. If someone were to look at your profile, what would be the first thing you’d want them to look at?

I:Maybe the about me section, because if they’re on my profile hopefully they actually care… like about me.  But the first thing they probably would see is my profile picture.

J:Do you think the picture part is important?

I:I think it is, because if you’re actually looking for a person on Facebook, you can tell that that is really the person or whatever, you can confirm it, there are probably like 5 [name] on the U of I Facebook, or probably more.

J: So when looking at another person’s profile, where does your attention usually go?

I:Usually to their wall.

J: So you’d look at who’s posting and what they’re saying?


J:What about after that?

I:After that… either pictures or maybe bumper stickers.

J:How would you describe your own profile—not component by component but overall?

I:I’d like to say simple, but with all of the new applications coming out, sometimes I just like to add some of them.  Umb, but in the past couple of months or whatever I have been trying to cut back on adding applications or whatever, just because they end up wasting my time. I would say it’s not as detailed as other people’s profiles.  Like some people have like 20 photos albums or something, I have like 3 or something.

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Respondent 9

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J: So if you were gonna pick one thing about your profile that you wanted somebody to see first, what would it be?


J:It’s probably one of the first things, right?

I:Yeah, picture.

J:What do you usually look at when you’re looking at someone else’s profile? Is there a routine or anything?

I:The people’s profiles I look at are usually friends.  I usually look at the closer friends of mine.  I look at their status, umb, the pictures they put up, and just… [inaudible]

J:If you were to describe the image your Facebook profile gives of you, how would you describe it, impression-wise.

I:I think about that actually. Positive? [laughs]

J:Well like what parts of your personality would they see though?

I:I try to incorporate a whole range of my personality…  I don’t list many interests or activities or music or anything… other than pictures up… profile quotes.

J:Quotes like what?

I:Quotes about what you can tell about a person, who the quote is from.

J:Alright, that’s cool.  We’re just about out of time. Thanks…

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Respondent 10

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J: When you look on another person’s profile do you ignore anything there?

I:You don’t really read like what books they like, what TV shows, you don’t really read their quotes, people for some reason never look at albums, unless they get tagged in them, or if they’re in your newsfeed you’ll look at it, but if I just go to a random person’s profile I won’t scroll down, I’ll just look at their tagged pictures or the pictures they tagged themselves in.  But I wouldn’t usually go directly to all of their albums.

J: So you’d click the link that says pictures of so and so?