This project's purpose is to gain insight into the ways college students construct identities and portray themselves on the following social media platforms: Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. I use data from existing literature as well as from 12 college students to shape my argument. The body of literature on the online self focuses mostly on Facebook, so my research aimed to fill this gap by examining additional social networking applications (Instagram and Snapchat) to bring to light potential differences. I postulate that students convey their identities differently across each media platform, and that they prioritize illustrating what they believe is the best version of themselves. A best self is well-received by and impressive to audience members. In order to achieve a best or ideal self online, students must construct a concrete and compelling picture of who they are for their audience. Students are capable of manipulating their identities to cater to particular audiences, which results in students garnering a far reaching online presence.

Type of Work

Thesis - Limited Access

Department or Program



Hamilton College


Bachelor of Arts

Date of Graduation


Faculty Advisor

Stephen Ellingson


Access to this thesis is limited to Hamilton College, Clinton, NY.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.