Tara Burton in The New Atlantis:
Socially and professionally, we create ourselves online. Just as the way we dress our bodies, position our gestures, or cultivate a class-specific accent allows us to occupy not just physical but social space, so too does our creation of a social media personality allow us to project our social selves into the dizzying realms of the disembodied. And the reach of these disembodied spaces — our ability to share content not just with a few “in real life” acquaintances but to the whole expanse of our followers — makes these digital-social selves brutally efficient, a way of projecting ourselves into the gaze of everybody we know, all at once. We cannot dissociate either our economic lives or our social selves from the creeping need for a personal brand. Digital self-creation as a form not just of expanded agency, but of attention-seeking, has become a requirement. We create ourselves not just as works of art, but as objects of commerce. Our digital selves, like our bodies, are vulnerable. “Miniature Gods”
The irony is that self-creation was traditionally seen as evidence not of man’s desperation, but his dignity. In Renaissance philosopher Giovanni Pico della Mirandola’s “Oration on the Dignity of Man” (1486), shortly after creating the universe God tells Adam that creativity, and self-creativity in particular, is integral to what it means to exist in the image of God:
Thou, constrained by no limits, in accordance with thine own free will, in whose hand We have placed thee, shalt ordain for thyself the limits of thy nature…. We have made thee neither of heaven nor of earth, neither mortal nor immortal, so that with freedom of choice and with honor, as though the maker and molder of thyself, thou mayest fashion thyself in whatever shape thou shalt prefer.
To self-create is a form of self-divinization.