HuffPost Women is at South By Southwest this weekend, and we're thrilled to be hosting a panel on an issue we wanted to discuss with other women: anxiety about who you are online.
Many of us are on Twitter and Facebook and Pinterest and maybe Foursquare and Google Plus, and in many ways, these platforms are incredibly fulfilling. They let us keep in touch with the people we care about, keep track of people we haven't seen in a while, and maybe spy a little on the ones who got away. We look to our online networks for advice on everything from career choices to parenting to what to read, watch, buy, wear. A 2011 survey found that women are annoyed with some aspects of Facebook, namely other users' complaining, political diatribes and bragging, but the pros far outweigh the cons.
But these platforms and portals also become another forum where you are visible to a lot of people, and you have the opportunity to choose what those people see. Women already spend so much time and energy trying to act and look good in the world -- often to female peers. How much pressure do women feel to sculpt their online appearances as well? We know that women are more cautious about what they say on social media networks than men and that they spend more time using those networks than men. What if women are spending that extra time editing the persona they're presenting to the world?
And if they are, what effect does that have on how they feel about who they really are? What message do you send to yourself if you feel the need to project what Barbara and Shannon Kelley, authors of "Undecided: How to Ditch the Endless Quest for Perfect and Find the Career-and Life-That's Right for You" call the "iconic self" online? Also, if you're not yourself online, how meaningful are the connections you make via social networks?
These are the questions we'll be exploring today on our panel, "Performance Anxiety: How Women Present Themselves in the Digital Age."
Our panelists include journalist, author and Twitter queen Susan Orlean; Lisa Ling, founder of the site SecretSocietyofWomen.com and host of OWN's "Our America" series, Tiffany Shlain, the filmmaker behind "Connected" and the Webby awards; and Bianca Bosker, HuffPost's senior tech editor and founder of the site's Women in Tech series.
If you're in Austin, we hope you'll join us at the panel, and even if you're not, you can tweet a question for our panelists to @HuffPostWomen using hashtag #sxsw, and we'll do our best to get it answered!