In chapter four of “Consumer Culture,” Celia Lury discusses the differences of work and societal philosophies in Fordist and Post-Fordist economies.  Post-fordism brought on a new kind of labor and worker: flexible labor and the adaptable worker.  Labor was no longer the repetition of one specific job or task that was assigned to the worker, for example, screwing in one piece of a car wheel on hundreds of tires everyday.  Due to technological advances like automatic machines, inventory systems and mass market research, the worker now has to not only know how the new technologies work, but also be versatile enough to solve multiple problems in one work day.  Employers look for the most adaptable employees who have many skills because labor in the present day is not fixed, but rather flexible.   

In a capitalist world where so much of our identity is defined by the work that we do, it was inevitable that the transition from fixed to flexible labor changed people personally.  In class we listed those changes as developing: a 24/7-laborer mentality, a multi-dimensional labor identity, a lack of strong production identity, a transparency about ourselves, and new consumer identities.  Some of the consequences of a lack of strong production identity were the tendency to jump from job to job, become more individualistic and less committed, and create personal brands and networks.  What I find the most relevant in this list is the necessity for personal branding.  

It’s no wonder that in 2004, in the midst of a rapidly and drastically changing professional and societal world, Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook.  He and the movie about its beginnings, The Social Network, explain that the reason Facebook was created was so people could share their lives with friends near and far.  However, I think Zuckerberg created Facebook because he realized the importance of identity as people’s networks grew larger and larger.  Through Facebook, anyone can build a representation of who they are through pictures, statuses, link posts and comments.  The explosion of social media in the past 10 years has only furthered that capability and is now crucial for professional opportunities and personal relationships.  There is a social media platform for every purpose: LinkedIn for professional networking, Tumblr and WordPress for writing and blogging, Twitter for quick shout outs, Pinterest for inspirational photos and DIYs, Instagram for instant photos and videos, the list goes on and on. 

Before social media, people could only form identities by the work they did and the relationships they held.  Today, we have the vast variety of opportunities to control and form those identities via virtual portals that are brought into real-life.  We are living in the peak of a Post-Fordist society.  People can become obsessed with building their online identities only able to think about their next photo or post.  Sometimes they act in certain manners just to broadcast it later.  Those I speak of can only source their sense of self through their social media profiles rather than finding it through more traditional outlets like their career or passions.  Some positive aspects, however, is the ability to showcase the multi-dimensionality of one person whether it be listing different skills on LinkedIn or a Tumblr to showcase an artistic hobby.  Personal branding gives us the opportunity to reflect on ourselves, our goals, and the work that still has yet to be done.  

My personal branding consists of a Facebook Timeline, a Tumblr page, an Instagram account, a LinkedIn “PLEASE HIRE ME” advertisement, and now, a WordPress for my writings in a particular class.  I use Facebook most often as a means for all communications: private messages, recent photos, status updates about my life, posts of what I find interesting at the time, links to the other social platforms I use, etc.  My Tumblr page, like I mentioned before, is just photos and synopses of my travels from my semester abroad in Prague.  I rarely use Instagram, but when I do, I post photos that I find interesting, beautiful or special to me.  LinkedIn, the one I despise the most, was solely adopted for professional networking opportunities.  (I was told that as a senior trying to break into the corporate world, it was time I made one, so I cracked.)  It has all the information my resume does and shows the connections I have and the people who legitimize my skills through “endorsements.”  (If I actually get a job from that site, it will have been a true miracle.)  Lastly, the WordPress I’m using now is to share my observations and thoughts to my classmates and vice versa.  I think sharing and learning from my peers is not only interesting but also beneficial for my future. 

The combination of social media outlets I utilize creates the best possible representation of my identity.  My desires to form that representation are due to social and cultural demands of the Post-Fordist society I live in.  My identity, however, is not sourced by these representations whatsoever.  My goal is to form my identity by what I learn and find interesting, the work I create, and the relationships I have, not by the notifications I receive.