Men & Instagram: An Update on My Research Project

A month ago, I decided I was going to take up a research project on the validations we get from posting things on social media. I did my preliminary research on Instagram and how that might effect self-esteem and the way we portray ourselves.

One thing I found really interesting was that almost all the articles or research I read were specifically geared towards females. According to Omnicore, 68% of users on Instagram are female. It isn’t too surprising that Instagram is a female dominated platform, from the numerous beauty/fashion products using Instagram as a marketing tool to the various forms of diverse makeup promoting positive body image and self love. Rachel Simmons, author and researchersays females have always been told that they will be valued for their appearance. Instagram is a platform for them to get that validation especially because of societal expectations on women. However, that is not what I’m going into now. There are many articles and research done into this that shed some light on the complexities of Instagram and it’s relationship with females.

What was interesting to me was that when I did look into how men used Instagram, most of what I found was just people making parodies of how females treat Instagram. There are things like this video on Instagram Husbands and this article called “What if Guys Acted Like Girls on Instagram

There was a lack in any kind of information on how men interacted with Instagram, why they do or do not have an account, if it makes a difference to the way they view themselves and the effects on their self-esteem. Aaron Barksdale, in this article says male body image issues are dismissed as a non-issue for ‘real men’.

There are a lot of factors and societal norms to consider in this instance. There are also different intersections to consider such as race, sexuality and gender identity. However, I think my first line of research would be a short survey to find out broadly what men think about using Instagram and if they care about how they come across on the platform.

If you want to check out or take part in this survey, you can do so here: https://goo.gl/forms/Sp7gPo8qm1BpbK0o1

 

The more likes, the merrier the person

I watched an episode of Black Mirror recently. In this episode, we lived in a world where our value/currency was determined by our online ratings. The more 5 stars others gave our pictures, our statuses and even our interaction with them in real life, got us a higher average rating. In this world, the ‘richest’ people were those who had an average rating higher than 4.5. The jobs we could get was also based on our ratings, for a better career we required a higher average rating. This episode really struck out to me because I felt like this was a reality we could be heading towards and are partially in.

A lot of us care so much about the reception towards what we post online. People always want more likes/retweets. In this era creating a viral video is something we want to achieve, for some, by any means possible. I remember friends telling me in high school that the optimal time to post photos on Instagram is between 8-9pm on Fridays and between 3-4pm on weekends to ensure more likes.

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(Source: vanitybuzz.com)

This made me ask myself; How much do we value the validation we get from social media? So I decided why not base my research around this question. I’m so curious to know the extent to which we care about social media posts. Does it affect our mood if there isn’t enough likes? How does the number of likes we get affect our self-esteem? Do we change parts of our personality because we know it’ll get more likes or views? In an era where a large part of our identity is portrayed in the online sphere, it’s important to know how this change in our way of life impacts the way we build our character.

 

In order to get the information for my project I will mainly be conducting interviews and focus groups with different people as well as publishing an online survey for general public opinion. As secondary research, I will also look at journal articles and public data online to help me broaden my understanding of the role social media plays in validating people’s thoughts, pictures, comments etc.

Social media has been a huge part of my life, especially throughout my developmental years. I used to struggled when it came to not having that many friends on Facebook or not getting a lot of Instagram likes. I think this project would be a great chance for me to look at how others that use social media deal with their need for validation. I am also aware of my biases and personal opinions on this topic so I shall do my best to avoid it from affecting this research project.

Overall, I am very excited to embark on this research project that will hopefully dissect our behaviour on social media.

Curiosity killed internalised hate and the protection of ignorance

Curiosity is such a loaded word. The very concept of it seeps into our lives in many aspects, through many different avenues from the moment our brain can conceptualise things.

John Ruskin says “Curiosity is a gift, a capacity of pleasure in knowing (1819).” We take pleasure in having the agency to choose what we want to know. That’s why online media is such a powerful thing in this era, because that’s where people turn to when they are curious. From youtube tutorials, to wikipedia pages and discussion forums. It has the capacity to satisfy your curiosity over anything.

For me, one of the ways my curiosity manifested and had such a profound impact on my life was when I started to question the things I always assumed were true. Growing up, I was exposed to things based on how it was in my community. The things I believed were shaped by people around me or the things that were said on TV.

I lived in a very asian community but grew up watching Western media and tv shows. I grew up believing fairer skin was always better and if you didn’t fit specific beauty standards you would just have to loose out in some aspects of life, that speaking english automatically meant you were smarter then those who didn’t, that anything western was assumed to be the better way of doing things. These beliefs were further cemented because everyone around me thought the same things or if they thought different they never mentioned anything to me. I had a very narrow world view.

It wasn’t till I was much older, around 16, when I decided to re-think these beliefs. It wasn’t till I started using more social media and hearing all these different opinions and I started making friends who didn’t think the same way I do. It wasn’t till then that I was actually curious about things like beauty standards, cultural differences and the way life was for people in different social groups.

This curiosity led to late nights watching youtube videos, reading articles online and reading about people’s opinions through tumblr text posts. It was such a revelation to me to learn about the way we can sometimes be thought to hate ourselves or hate other social groups because there is a dominant narrative in society that no one wanted to question.

With this curiosity however came the destruction of the blissful bubble I used to live in. I heard racist, sexist, ignorant comments coming from friends, family, celebrities I admired. The protection ignorance gave me was shattered because now, knowing what I do, I wasn’t going to allow the people I care about to make such statements. The thing is, it’s a lot harder to get people to listen to your thoughts if they didn’t already want to.

It made things harder but it also made things better because I learnt so much. I learnt why people say what they do, how they end up with certain beliefs, how I can help change minds and how I can be an ally to many people who don’t have a platform to voice their thoughts in society (one of the reasons I decided on doing a degree in media).

We don’t get to choose to the environment we grow up in and the things we are thought but I think that’s where curiosity has a huge role in our life. The curiosity you have has the ability to change the way you look at yourself, the way you look at the world and the way you choose to live your life.

 

 

 

You are what you tweet (or are you?)

Oh yes the 21st century. Where who we are, how we are viewed and a large portion of our reputation is based on our online persona.

The one ability social media gave us, is the ability to create our personas. It’s sort of like creating a brand for ourselves online. Try out this analysis of your tweets to see what brand you have created for yourself.

People gain traction from creating certain personas especially on twitter, a lot of ‘famous’ twitter accounts, can be considered micro-celebraties.

For example someone created a twitter account called ‘Emo Kylo Ren‘ which is based of a character from The Force Awakens, creating a persona of said character and has 880K followers.

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Wether consciously or unconsciously, all of us post what we do for a reason. We want to give off a certain impression when we tweet.

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Think of our digital artefacts or the #bcm112 hashtag during a lecture, we tweet certain things because that to us, is how we want to be represented. And sometimes, how we choose to present ourselves, can make us famous.

I’ll leave it to you guys to decide if that’s good or bad or somewhere in between.

 

 

Conflict (with) Journalism

In a previous blogpost , I wrote about how we have moved from being audiences to being actual participants in consuming media and thus, creating a shift in the journalism paradigm. This shift claims that citizens now could also be considered journalists and obviously some professional journalists are not very happy about that claim.

But let’s look at some of the reasons, this shift in paradigm is becoming more apparent and more favourable within the public.

  • citizen journalism has an open access platform (much like when I blogged about Apple vs Android )
  • There is user-led content creation
  • the significant lack of gatekeepers

Take a listen to this podcast, where I explain those points in better detail.

The general systems in which citizen journalism operates in opens up a whole new way we access information and that is something current journalist instead of combating, should learn to work together with.

All things are Remixes (including this title)

Normally, when said the word remix , the thing that pops into people’s minds are remixed songs and music. However, a remix can also be defined as “to combine or edit existing materials to produce something new” , which means to say that almost every creative output can be considered a remix.

Think of all the movies about to be released, are large percentage of them are either sequels, remakes or based of books/comics/video games. If we go by that second definition all of these movies are considered remixes too. Think of how you recognise certain lyrics, rhythms or beats in the latest songs. Think of all the memes.

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Kirby Ferguson says that “creation needs influences, which is why everything is a remix.” (P.S. I highly recommended watching the video linked in above quote).

If you think about it, all Digital Artefacts are remixes too. Mine certainly is. The concept of using emoji’s as the main form of communication has been seen on many platforms including  BuzzFeed.

So, next time you think of creating something, maybe also think about what you’re remixing.

Transmedia:Where Everything is Everywhere

So what is Transmedia? Well according to Professor Henry Jenkins “Transmedia storytelling represents a process where integral elements of a fiction get dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience” To deconstruct those words; it is when one “story/universe” tells stories in different platforms but it all links back to that initial story or universe.

To put things into perspective, I created this little prezi to explore Harry Potter and the transmedia narrative it uses. (Click this link or image below)

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If you notice, what the Harry Potter universe does is that it caters to the needs/wants of the fans, it gives them different ways to keep immersing themselves into the Harry Potter universe in different platforms and each of those platforms generate a different experience but still ties back to the overarching narrative of the Harry Potter universe.

So what we get at is, in this day and age, with the technology we have, the best and most powerful way to market things is to embrace transmedia, because let’s be real, we are that the point where the success of your product’s marketing is held in the palms -smart phones- of the people consuming the product.

References:

Transmedia Storytelling: The Complete Guide 

Scoop: Transmedia & Harry Potter