This is not to suggest that relational positions or identifications are entirely unconstrained. As Gubrium and Holstein (2000, p. 101) point out, the selves of life histories are both “constructing and constructed,” and they are shaped by individuals’ life experiences. Jarvinen (2004) explains, “In a sense we talk ourselves into being. But not just anything goes. Social selves are not without design or restraint...What we say about ourselves and others is mediated by recognizable identities” (p. 61-62).

Because the DALN is a vernacular collection based on voluntary participation, we also believe it offers individuals and groups a discursive site for the possibility of political agency based on civic engagement. When participants contribute their stories to the collections within the DALN, they gain access to a stage that extends beyond themselves and their own immediate circle of family and friends, engaging in a kind of civic action, claiming the right to speak and represent their own understandings of literacy and the world in a larger discursive arena not controlled by conventional mass media outlets.

In this sense, as Mark Deuze (2006) remarks, “Instead of relying on journalists, public relations officers, marketing communications professionals, and other professional storytellers” to make sense of the world, social media sites—like the DALN—help contributors make their own sense, producing a “fragmented…yet connected and networked worldview” through the accumulation of narratives, individual and group engagement (p. 66).

Storytelling is not a simple representing of pre-existing reality, but is rather a politically motivated production of a certain way of perceiving the world which privileges certain interests over others.

(Mumby, 1987, p. 111)

Even seemingly coherent displays of identity, such as those that pose as deliberate and intentional, are reliant on both interactional and ideological constraints for their articulation.

(Bucholtz and Hall, 2005, p. 605)