Dear Mendelson and Papacharissi,
Beyond a simple picture, the whole entire profile is a self-portrait carefully put together by the author to project ideas about themselves in a way that they expect people to see them. People can believe it isn’t intentional, but it is. By filling out a profile, tweaking your “about me,” religious beliefs, favorite films, etc., projects how you want people to perceive you. Even leaving space like that blank still perpetuates an expectation of you for your audience. They’re created for a connection, big or small, lovers, friends, or acquaintances; it’s exactly the point.
The impact of social networking is undeniable; especially in an era where is a verb. We’re only just beginning to understand the implications of such sites for friendship, and for our notions of privacy, authenticity, community, and identity. It's no surprise that people who have an inflated sense of themselves and are more self-centered thrive on social networks by having more friends and post more attractive pictures of themselves.
When people post statuses about average day-to-day activities multiple times a day, they are seeking the validation (in this case, likes) from others. Before Facebook, I personally don't recall that if I was going to sleep for example, I would make sure at least twenty people knew before doing so. Now, there are hundreds of statuses posted everyday literally about nothing. It's human for us to talk and tell each other what's going on in our lives, but social networking has taken it to a new extreme.