Picture Perfect: Society’s Obsession with Social Media and Selfies

There couldn’t be a more perfect topic to talk about for a blog called ‘Social Media Planet’ than this one. The topic is a focus on society’s obsession with self love and identity which is becoming an increasing issue thanks to the introduction and the continuing high use of social media.

Our identity of who we are arises out of our interactions with other people in our personal lives and our online ones too. We use other people as a mirror in which we see ourselves, whether it is a negative or positive reflection. By this I mean, you find your identity through other people by comparing yourself or receiving positive or negative feedback of who you are e.g. when people tell you that you are nice, beautiful or selfish. However, it is not as straight forward as someone saying you’re mean, and therefore you are mean. No, we shape who we are by choosing to ignore or resist messages we receive from others, much like a filter. Furthermore, we shape ourselves even more when people send us contradictory messages and we work to mold those messages to make a coherent whole (Evans, 2016).

Selfies and the possession of self image online are increasing through social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr, as well as other apps like Snapchat and WhatsApp. However, through this, not only are we looking for self verification and self identity, it can actually be damaging for the person posting and the people around them. This danger is because we mirror each other. Charles Taylor, a Canadian philosopher supports this issue, stating “Our identity is partly shaped by recognition… often by the mis-recognition of others, and so a person or group of people can suffer real damage, real distortion, if the people or society around them mirror back to them a confining or demeaning, or contemptible picture of themselves” (Taylor, 1997).
Continuing to think deeper into this, it intrigued me to ask that if the average person is shaped by others from the people around them, would this affect celebrities at a larger scale as they have a bigger audience than the average person? Although there is no real answer to that question, it can only be assumed that it would affect them as it would anyone else. We are all human after all.

The rise of the selfie has been linked to three cultural shifts; the shift to online media to determine status; the rise of the ‘attention economy’ (attention is the new currency); and the shift in celebrity culture (ordinary people becoming famous from online media platforms). Ironically, while ordinary people are becoming famous for posting images of themselves on Instagram (aka Instafamous) or by using other platforms to get their image out, celebrities from music to film, are posting pictures of themselves doing average things that creates a bigger connection with ordinary people. For example, Lorde posted a selfie in her bed without make up on, Demi Lovato has also shared a number of selfies without make up (which she now promotes a hashtag No Make Up Monday in support of feeling beautiful for who you are).
The nature of the selfie however, is to share with others and get recognition and verification. By posting on social media that is open to the public, you’re expecting for people to give likes, or hearts, or comments on how funny or amazing, or how beautiful you are; a verification of self worth. It feels nice to be liked and to feel proud of oneself so we keep doing it. However, when you’re expecting praise but don’t get as many likes or negative feedback, the danger is that you feel less of yourself and so put your self worth in the hands of others.

 
Reference List:
Evans, N 2016, BCM310 Looking at Ourselves, lecture 2, week 2: Looking at Ourselves: Social Media and the Quantified Self. Lecture PowerPoint slides, viewed 26 March 2016, accessed through Moodle.

Taylor, C 1997, ‘The Politics of Recognition’, in Broadview Press (ed.), New Contexts of Canadian Criticism, Ontario, Canada

Is technology bad for children?

Technology is having an increasing impact on our everyday lives in the 21st Century. We are living in a digital age where technology and the Internet are not only for adults and teenagers anymore. Children are now being impacted by technology and media platforms at an early age from the use of tablets, smartphones, televisions and other shared electronics. However, is this unavoidably bad for their development? Could technology actually be creating a more academically advanced future?

In a study which specialises in children’s media, the Joan Ganz Cooney Center reported in 2011 that ‘almost 25 percent of young children (ages 0 to 5) use the Internet at least once a week and just under half of all 6-year-olds play video games’. Although while there are educational TV shows like Play School and The Wiggles, technology and media are consumable in many different ways (streaming, browsing, playing etc.) for adults and children. Katrina Youssef, a Children Services Professional in Sydney,

gave her perspective from her 8 years’ experience with young children and the impact of technology, “in today’s society technology is used around us every day and is growing rapidly. We should always keep updated with the latest trends in technology so children are able to understand it… technology is the future whether we like it or not”. However, she continues to mention that while technology is good for children there needs to be time limits when using the technology, “it stops them from being social and active; everything should be balanced out”.

In a research report investigating the media usage of young children, Always Connected: The new digital media habits of young children, written by Aviva Lucas Gutnick et al, informs that co-viewing with a child while watching educational programs aids in the child’s learning. Although they also state a recommendation from The American Academy of Paediatrics, that ‘children under age 2 [should] avoid watching any television at all, and parents should limit the viewing time of older children to no more than 2 hours a day’.

In other words, technology for young children is harmless if monitored and kept under control by the use of time limits. The overuse of technology creates bad habits and stops them from being social and active.

For more information on Always Connected: The new digital media habits of young children, it is available for download from: http://www.joanganzcooneycenter.org/publication/always-connected-the-new-digital-media-habits-of-young-children/

References

Gutnick, A. L., Robb, M., Takeuchi, L. & Kotler, J., 2011. Always Connected: The new digital media habits of young children, New York: The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop.

O’Neale, R., n.d. Kids Matter. [Online]
Available at: https://www.kidsmatter.edu.au/health-and-community/enewsletter/kids-online-statistics
[Accessed 26 September 2015].

The Joan Ganz Cooney Center, 2011. Always Connected: Young Children’s Media Use on the Rise, New York: The Joan Ganz Cooney Center and Sesame Workshop.
Youssef, K., 2015. [Interview] (25 September 2015).

An Analysis of ‘The Advantages of TV Advertising vs. Print Advertising’

The purpose of this text is to inform and argue the advantages of both TV advertising and print advertising. The text is a slightly bias critique towards television advertising but only as print media is on a spiralling decline in audience consumption, while TV is on the rise. This article may even be an unfair match as TV advertising has the upper hand with video representation being a higher advantage than print advertisements. Not to mention, the significant difference between audience demographics.

The author of this article, Eric Dontigney, writes with 10 years of professional experience as well as receiving a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy with a psychology minor. With a clear distinct style of writing, Dontigney communicates his ideas in a lightly formal manner, engaging the audience with easy to understand language for the everyday person.

Business owners, advertising companies and media students are the likely audience for this article as these readers would be interested to learn the different mediums that make the most profit in advertising, and/or learn how media consumption is adapting to a digital age. As a communications and media student, I would be a part of the intended audience as my future goals are in the media business. Articles like this personally concern me as I have an interest to work in print media. However, according to this article circulation in print is declining which consequently means a decline in clientele and profit. The path to print extinction is increasing each day as society becomes more digitally driven.

By giving direct comparisons between television and print advertising to make his point, Dontigney expects the audience to be shocked and concerned for the fate of print media. It seems through Dontigney’s article that print advertising and media is running out of time to make an impact in today’s digital society. While that may be a correct assumption, it is understood that his argument is against print advertising, making it appear as though print is now irrelevant. Although, he doesn’t back up his views with factual statistics, rather just stated points, so how can one be sure?

Dontigney’s structure of the article is broken up into sections to allow easier reading for the intended audience. This provides a much easier way to digest the information given. The headings also allow an insight to the prepared information as well as demonstrate the areas of which TV advertising has an advantage.

References:

Dontigney, E. ‘The Advantages of TV Advertising vs. Print Advertising’, Demand Media, viewed 20 April 2015 http://smallbusiness.chron.com/advantages-tv-advertising-vs-print-advertising-18122.html

Sympathy for the Villain: Fictional vs Reality

Lately, we’ve seen movies with a perception twist. We find the back stories of villains and how they became ‘evil’, we can sympathise for them and they have redeemable qualities that we understand. They’re not so much the villain we think they are, movies such as Maleficent, X-Men Origins and theatre productions like Wicked, all give an insight to how the villain became the antagonist and shed a different light to how we see them.

Below is a short interview with Benjamin based on this idea.

Even in an established universe such as DC Comics’ Batman, we see an insight to the origin stories of characters and how they become villains. This has been adopted through popular culture by a recently aired television show, Gotham, where we see how Bruce Wayne became Batman and how the villains become villainous. Have you seen Gotham or a similar show where you see the origin stories of the characters, especially the villains? Do you sympathise for the villain more knowing their origin and how they became a villain?
I do watch Gotham but I don’t feel sympathy for the villain, but I’m empathetic towards them now understanding their history.

How often to you watch television shows or movies?
I watch both types pretty regularly. Shows are harder for me keep up to date with though.

In the movie, Maleficent, we see a twist from Disney’s 1959 Sleeping Beauty where the story is shown through the perspective of the evil fairy. However, Maleficent wasn’t always evil, a transformation of good turning evil is shown throughout the film. We discover that she turned bitter from betrayal and a broken heart. Did this make you feel more sympathy for the villain?
Yes. I felt especially sympathetic in the scene where the guy she loved betrayed her by cutting off her wings. In that moment, you didn’t see her in any light, she wasn’t good or bad; you just felt her pain. Both physical and emotional [pain].

(Watch below for the scene Benjamin is referring to)

Do you feel more connected to Maleficent and understand her story? How?
Yeah, I do feel for her. As the viewer, we learn about her background and how she becomes ‘bad’, but the other characters don’t understand why she is evil. So I feel sorry because no one understands her.

From watching the film Maleficent, does it make you like the villain more?
I wouldn’t say I like her any more but, I do empathise and sympathise with her more.

Have you watched any movies or TV shows where you have liked the villain more than the hero?
Yes, ‘Swordfish’! It’s one of the first movies that I actually liked the villain more and was happy he got away with it [stealing].

If so, what makes you like the villain more?
He was a smooth criminal and he was neither good nor bad, like Vin Diesel in ‘Fast and Furious’.

Final Note:
I would have to modify this interview for the future as it was only effective because my interviewee had previously seen the films and TV shows suggested. I also think the questions would only reach to a certain demographic, possibly a young generation like generation Y, as older movies had a stronger sense of good prevailing evil e.g. Western movies featuring John Wayne. Furthermore, a younger generation is more likely to be up to date with recent films but also understand older film approaches.

Why Ethics Are Important in Research

Ethical research is research that is undertaken using the ethical codes and guidelines constructed to “ensure the researcher is ‘doing the right thing’ by the project” (Weerakkody, 2008). However, what is ‘right’ is subjective and each person has individual ideas and concepts to what is acceptable and what is unacceptable when comes to what is ‘right’. This is a reason why ethical codes and guidelines have been constructed by organisations and governments.

Having these formal guidelines for ethical research is important not just as a guiding principle for what is ‘right’ but to also protect the research project and its participants. The legal and administrative requirements help protect the subject and the project by addressing issues such as “informed consent, privacy, confidentiality, no harm to subjects and anonymity” (Weerakkody, 2008) as well as protecting the organisation’s reputation and any possible legal action from participants.

It is important to ensure that researchers abide by these formal guidelines so we can have faith that any research conducted is credible. I know that not all research is trustworthy, especially in the age of social media and online consumption, but that is exactly the reason why we need it most now.

The 21st Century shows an increasing demand of the internet, and with this, it is harder than ever to identify whether the professional Code of Ethics is being conducted. Most likely, if it is not from a reputable source, then an easy bet is no. Without the use of the professional Code of Ethics how can we trust the research we see on the internet? What gives us reason to believe that this information is accurate and conducted with honesty and fairness? With technology expanding where just about everyone owns a smartphone, anyone can become a photojournalist by taking a photo and posting it on the internet, just like anyone with a computer can become a journalist. This could be dangerous for the future of journalism and the practice of Code of Ethics, as this would not benefit society if ethical practices were exploited.

Journalists are a good example when conducting ethical research. They commit to follow a Journalists’ Code of Ethics that involves “honesty, fairness, independence and respect for the right of others” (Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, 2013) and with recognition of this relationship, any reader can guarantee that what they are reading is reliable and trustworthy.

There are many areas in which some ethical issues are involved during the researching process. According to Niranjala Weerakkody, author of Research Ethics in Media and Communication (2008), Table 5.1 shows the ethical issues related to research as seen below:

Table 5.1 Weerakkody 2008

This table, although a brief outline, can shed some light onto the different areas and issues relating to ethics in research and how the guidelines try to protect or prevent such things.

In conclusion, ethics are important when researching for a number of reasons, some that include the protection of the researching organisation or participant, for confidence in trustworthiness and reliability of research, and for guiding principles to what is right and fair. Without such ethical guidelines, nothing would be credible or trustworthy while conducting research. Therefore, not having credible or trustworthy research means it would become invalid and redundant. Henceforth, ethical research is important when researching.

For Further Reading on Ethical Research:

Hunter, D 2014. ‘Facebook puts ethics of research by private companies in spotlight’, The Conversation, available from http://theconversation.com/facebook-puts-ethics-of-research-by-private-companies-in-spotlight-28798

References:

Journalists’ Code of Ethics, Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, 2013 available from http://www.alliance.org.au/code-of-ethics.html

Weerakkody, Niranjala Damayanthi 2008, ‘Research ethics in media and communication’, in Research methods for media and communications, Oxford University Press Australia and New Zealand, South Melbourne, Vic., pp. 73-91

Media Research and Becoming Famous

Media research consists of qualitative and quantitative data. These two features are separate from one another but go hand in hand when researching media. In some cases using both techniques comparatively can aid in researching and collecting information. According to Arthur Berger, author of What is Research? (2014), qualitative research involves “matters such as the text’s properties, degree of excellence, and distinguishing characteristics” (Berger, 2014). This helps in judging and evaluating data. Quantitative research however, includes “numbers, magnitude, and measurement” (Berger 2014) which assists in gaining information from experiments, surveys, questionnaires and the like. Both of these modes help media researchers categorise and divide information. To put it simply, qualitative research evaluates where quantitative research counts and measures.

Looking specifically into media and communication, there are five aspects of communication that we use in our everyday life. This includes:
Intrapersonal are the thoughts we carry on the inside like how we will respond to a message, and the ways we communicate to ourselves, e.g. as we write.
Interpersonal is between yourself and a small group of people e.g. the group of friends you sit with at lunch.
Small group of communication where the message is not particularly shared but one is talking while the other listens for example, giving a presentation, public speaking or teaching a class.
Organisational communication are the ways in which organisations communicate about their business to other members or to other parties.
Mass media communication is how each form of media communicates to every receiver. This means how the sender (tv, radio, film, social media etc) communicates messages to a large number of people receiving the message.

An aspect I would like to research is how celebrities become famous. More closely, what is our fascination with celebrities and how does someone, who especially isn’t in film or the music industry, become so well known? What makes us pick up a magazine about Kim Kardashian West’s new hair colour or what Paris Hilton wore at the Cannes Film Festival this year? How are celebrities famous for being famous? And, can I become one?

Let’s think back when Kim Kardashian West didn’t have the empire she does now. Would we still be shocked that she changed her hair colour to platinum blonde? Will we still be confounded by the name she chooses for her child? What is it about Kim Kardashian that makes us pick up a magazine, click on a link, and follow her on every social media account? Our insistent need to watch her (and her family) on Keeping up with the Kardashian’s, and find as much information about her as possible is fuelling what inside of us? This interests me. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be interested in Kim Kardashian West but I’m curious to why or how we become fascinated.

References:

Berger, Arthur A. 2014, ‘What is research?’, in Media and communication research methods : an introduction to qualitative and quantitative approaches, 3rd ed., SAGE, Los Angeles, pp. 13-32

21st Century Misogynists

hate

Although women have come far from the stereotypical and sexist days of the 1950’s, the modern times of the 21st Century have created a new war against misogynistic people on the internet who continue to degrade women. Misogyny is the ‘Dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women’ (Misogyny, 2014). I am witness to women being targeted in media more than men, whether they are well known or not. Women who speak their mind and stand up for themselves are being called feminist in a negative connotation; and women in less fortunate countries fighting for their rights are being belittled. Now, because I am a woman myself, does not mean that I am feminist or misandrist as I discuss this growing concern for online misogyny. However, I do empathise for the women that are fighting this battle as I have been a direct target of a misogynist person online before as I play in online gaming communities, however, this wasn’t to the highest degree that it was capable of becoming. In a vague sense, I was playing an online first person shooter game that is played mostly by men where I was the last alive in my team for each of the three rounds we played. I won the game for my team and some particular men on the opposing team weren’t happy about it. When I spoke into the headset and they found out I was a women, they had nothing to say but sexist remarks.

Trolling is not new, it has been around for quite some time; it has however increased through the anonymity of the internet. I have seen this myself through different social networking sites, most commonly it is seen towards celebrities where ‘haters’ state unnecessarily rude comments and insults. What ever happened to “if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all”? I see that women in particular are targeted more than men on social media platforms and I believe that there is a difference between voicing your opinion and being ignorant of other people.

troll-meme

References:
Misogyny. (2014). In: Oxford Dictionaries, 1st ed. [online] Oxford University Press. Available at: http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/misogyny [Accessed 16 May. 2014].