Who Do They Think They’re Talking To? Framings of the Audience by Social Media Users

David Russell Brake


This article examines the understandings and meanings of personal information sharing online using a predominantly symbolic interactionist analytic perspective and focusing on writers’ conceptions of their relationships with their audiences. It draws on an analysis of in-depth interviews with 23 personal bloggers. They were found to have limited interest in gathering information about their audiences, appearing to assume that readers are sympathetic. A comprehensive and grounded typology of imagined relationships with audiences was devised. Although their blogs were all public, some interviewees appeared to frame their blogging practice as primarily self-directed, with their potential audiences playing a marginal role. These factors provide one explanation for some forms of potentially risky self-exposure observed among social media users.

Full Text: