Peer discussion – FMP (i)

During the early stages of the last project I spent a lot of time discussing my ideas and how to progress with my peers, however I often forgot to keep a record of these. This time I am making an effort to take notes and reflect on these discussions.

As my project is considering the influence of social media on people collectively it made sense to get feedback from others on their own opinions and attitudes towards sites such as Facebook and more specifically Instagram. I am interested in understanding more about Instagram firstly because it is a site and culture that I’m not familiar with using. Secondly, because it seems to embody the culture of self-promotion, status and image that seems to be such a big part of social media.

Our discussion unfolded as follows:
We talked about what the difference was between Amalia Ulman’s deliberately fake profile and the similarly posing and falseness present in the profiles of millions of other genuine users. One person conjectured that make-up is equally as fake as using airbrushing, photoshop etc. as it’s creating a facade that isn’t natural. Both of these suggestions then conjured questions about what defines something as ‘real’? The permeation of the internet into our everyday lives continues to blur this definition; a world where we can follow the every move of a billionaire movie star via Twitter, while being hoodwinked by hoax news reports and ‘catfish’ Facebook profiles. The internet gives anyone with access the power to craft their own image, to cast an illusion of themselves to potentially millions of strangers. We find ourselves increasingly concerned with the opinions of people we have never, and will never, even meet. People who are able to silently follow our every move, to send us comments or direct messages about anything they like. By broadcasting their lifestyle and image via sites such as Instagram people open themselves up to not only comments of admiration but also to bullying and vicious judgement. The anonymity removes usual self-censorship and social barriers that would ordinarily hold back these peoples brutal honesty. And although it’s not ‘real’ this can begin to have serious negative consequences on people’s lives. Self-esteem and validation becomes based on likes and comments received for selfies. Online popularity is seen as how they can define themselves. Some are so desperate for attention and that they wait for peak times to post, or even post deliberately controversial statements to gain publicity.WMy conclusion from this discussion was that much of this behaviour has always been present but that social media has provided a previously non-existent platform to indulge it.
I intend to research further into the techniques that people use to deliberately gain popularity online, the evolution of social media, as well as attempting to gain insight into common behaviours and subcultures present on sites such as Instagram.

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