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Hamilton 1 Becca Hamilton Dr. Noh Digital Society 3 March 2014 AGitl's Construction of entity On Social Media “ Growing up is hard. Navigating all the twists and turns of life as one tries to develop who they are can be quite confusing and intimidating. While managing this complex development of physical identity, girls today also have to keep up with the demands of an online identity through social media, Instagram and Facebook allow for girls to project an image of themselves through pictures, posts, and pokes that feature big smiles and happy hearts. However, these representations can easily be deceiving, allowing for girls to find themselves disappointed and lacking confidence which can then translate into lower self-esteem. Through features like hashtags, edited photos, and liking or commenting on posts, girls develop an ideal online surface identity of popularity and beauty which is motivated by underlying feelings of jealousy and inadequacy. In constructing this ideal online identity, popularity is the foundation on which this ‘mountain of manipulation is built, and so is developed through the use of hashtags on Instagram and Facebook Hashiags are used so that when clicked, any picture or post that uses the same hashtagged phrase will show up, hence increasing the number of people who can view the post. ‘Once more people see the content that the girls are producing, more people will follow or become friends with them, hence increasing their sense of popularity. When looking at a specific Instagram feed over a span of 24 hours, the average number of hashtags girls used @3, though ranging from 0 all the way to 21. Additionally, the girls who used significantly more hashtags culation? Hamilton 2 usually had noticeably more followers as well. By building a reputation and a following, these girls are able to feel popular and connected in a way that is simply impossible in the physical world. This augmentation of their identity creates a sense of amplified popularity and reputation of producing interesting things online. In the article, “Analysis of Participation in an Online Photo-Sharing Comminity: a Multidimensional Perspective” Nov, Naaman, and Ye explain the concept and importance of reputation in building an ideal popular identity They vitite, “those motivated by gaining reputation in the community may not focus on the quantity of the photos they post, but will attempt to draw attention to their shared artifacts by providing metainformation, as well as by joining social structures”(Nov, Naaman, Ye). In terms of Instagram and Facebook, gir! use hashtags to provide this “metainformation” and join these “social structures”, Hashtags allow for a sense of belonging and of acceptance through gaining followers or friends. By confining to social structures of typing frequently used hashtags, girls seem to define their identity of popularity to a number, and when those number of followers are not at the desired amount, confidence and self-esteem can decline. With this comes a cyclical pattern of gitls wanting more friends or followers and so use more hashtags, and when they do not reach the desire amount, continue to produce more photos with more hashtags. Utza and Beukeboom write in their article “The Role of Social Network Sites in Romantic Relationships: Effects on Jealousy and Relationship Happiness” found in the Jounal of Computer-Mediated Communication about their study of self-esteem and social media, They write, “low self-esteem individuals eompensate their lack of self-esteem by striving for popularity among friends on the SNS [...]]f they additionally have a high need for popularity, they are especially sensitive to negative cues and experience more jealousy”(Utza and Beukeboom). As described, a girl's desire to build this popular identity creates a jealousy cycle mirroring the cycle of hashtag use, which is Hamilton 3 difficult to break. From this jealousy of not having as many followers or friends comes low self- esteem, and so a desire to continually create more posts and hashtags, and the cycle continues. Using Instagram and Facebook to build this ideal identity and reputation of popularity perpetuates girls to logse confidence and self-esteem if desired numbers are not achieved. ‘Though hashtags can create a sense of belonging and community, girls tend to bend their good traits into a tool to aid in the pursuit of false identity of popula. Continuing with this cycle of jealousy, girls tend to use features such as commenting and liking photos ot posts on Facebook and Instagram to quantify and validate their newly established popular scant ora a following is established, girls can use the number of likes and comments on beautiful pictures of themselves, funny or clever posts, or pictures with exciting people to authenticate their online popular identity. For example, on the very popular ‘Wheaton Confessions page on Facebook, a person anonymously posted a negative opinion of how people acted at a specific basketball game. Then another person cleverly commented, “You must be fun at parties”, as to which 43 people wliked the comment over a very short 24 hour period. Another example of how girls use photos to get likes is when sorority girls pose together with their hand signs and matching t-shirts. On any Instagram newsfeed, these photos consistently get upwards of 100 likes because they feature many beautiful girls standing together and looking like they are having the time of their lives. Yet when photos or post do not get as, many likes or someone leaves a negative comment, jealousy or an irritated self image can v develop in many girls, Eugenia Siapera in her textbook Understanding New Media, expands on this building of identity throughout her identity chapter. She writes, “in constructing our identity wwe take into account any feedback we receive from our environment{...] identities are not static, acquired once and for all, but exist under conditions of permanent ongoing construction”(Siapera Hamilton 4 173). As Siapera explains, online identity is shaped by the “feedback we receive”, ie. the likes and comments to the posts and photos displayed on social media. When girls base the foundations of their identity in popularity by the frequency aflig or comments, they leave their self-worth up to the fragile world of another's opinion of them. Ifa post only gets 2 likes when the poster expected 50, or if someone leaves a negative comment, girls translate that to lower self-esteem and reveal itself through jealousy of those with more likes and posts. For instance, a photo on a specific Instagram news feed featuring a beautiful, tan, skinny girl sitting on a rock with waves crashing onto it got 129 likes, which could be validating and encouraging ina building of a popular online identity for the girl pictured. However because bilson many other girls see this validation and react in jealousy from a lower self-esteem. This manifested into a negative comment on the picture saying, “OMG eat more food plz”. Though written in a seemingly joking tone, this comment was obviously written as a quick jab stemming from a sense of lower self-esteem and jealousy of not being as skinny as the girl pictured. Social media seems to ara filter that would have most likely stopped a comment of such nature to be said in person, Sarcasm and emotion can be very difficult to translate over platforms such as commenting and liking on Instagram or Facebook, yet they are fundamental in how the receivers interpret what is said and how girls translate that into an identity. With this confusion comes { ae . rmisunderstanding, leading to even more mishaps in the process of building an ideal popular) ™™* identity online. In the article “Gratifications, Collective Self-Esteem, Online Emotional Openness, and Traitlike Communication Apprehension As Predictors of Facebook Uses” written by Zhang, Tang, and Leung, they describe a study conducted to observe how gratification, self esteem, and emotions are translated onto Facebook. They write, “Facebook may be a good channel for relationship building, professional networking, and recognition, but not an ideal Hamilton 5 place, as previously argued, for intimate exchange or seeking emotional support”(Zhang, Tang, Leung), Zhang, Tang and Leung make the point that there is too much tisk of miscommunication {for any intimate emotional exchange to happen over a social media platform such as Facebook. ‘4 However, the very substance of online “emotional support” girls are looking for in order to create this popular identity come from the comments and likes they receive on Facebook. True emotion, reaction, and body language is lost through social media, and so the intimate work of validation that girls are so striving for is being sought after in a very wrong location. Constructing an ideal popular identity from all the bits and pieces of fragmented emotion and low self-esteem can be dangerous and destructive. Though girls use comments and likes to build this identity, any small windstorm of negativity could blow their whole identity house down. Another aspect of a girl’s ideal online identity is that of perfection and beauty through edited photos of themselves. The concept of the selfie has become a phenomenon containing a ‘mixture of self-indulgence and self-adoration that can be perplexing to a girl navigating an online identity. With Instagram’s wide array of filters, which bring out colors or blurs out, imperfections, a gitl is able to easily project an altered or augmented version of herself to the online world, In the article “On Friendship, Boobs and the Logic of the Catalogue: Online Self- Portraits as a Means for the Exchange of Capital”? Ori Schwarz observes how photos and selfies, construct a cultural norm of perfection. He oii “Basically, we are witnessing a shift from photographing others for self-consumption to documentation of self for consumption of others"(Schwarz). This shift in culture from viewing others to others viewing ourselves encourages girls to find every imperfection and ‘fix’ them through filters and editing technology in order to look perfect to everyone else, What is most perplexing is that even though everyone knows what a person looks like in real life, when an edited photo is viewed on Instagram or Hamilton 6 Facebook, that perfect ideal is attached as a label to the person anyway. Schwarz also comments on this concept by saying, “Self-portraits act as one corporal and local cultural capital, and convertible with social capital both online and offline alike. Social hierarchies are based on the production and marketing of photographic self representation” (Schwarz). This concept of self-portraits as “currency” plays out in how gitls use selfies to work their social goals and build identity. When a selfie is posted with filters and enhancements, this photo circulates throughout the gir!’s social sphere, presenting her impossible best to everyone she coud possibignow. One tt sent out, the responses of likes or comments ensue as an act of ‘reimbursement’ or validation to the girl that they approve and enjoy seeing her personal, yet impossible best self: In their constant pursuit of a perfect, beautiful online identity, girls can also use non-computerized editing such as finding a perfect angle ot altering body positions to enhance their mife!/One specific Instagram feed, a photo of a beautiful girl was receiving many likes and comments. What was striking about the photo was the angle at which she took the picture, which enhanced the look of her breasts and gave flattering lighting to her face. This all to typical type of staged ‘self-portrait’ is rewarded and encouraged through the ‘mass amount of response, though this culture allows for girls who have low self-esteem or social capital to use the altered selfie to define their ideal identity. Schwartz comments on this issue by stating, “Rather it seems that this strategy is usually taken by those lacking in (legitimate) cultural capital[...|they find in their (represented) body a last resort in the visual sphere, where identity is mostly reduced to either textual or photographic representations”(Schwarz). Sadly, many girls use edited selfies that reveal their body in sexual ways as a last resort in finding a sense of valuable social ean ey feel that in order to construct a beautiful, perfect identity if they lack in intelligence or talent, can make up for in sexuality. Girls want to develop themselves Hamilton 7 into pietpre perfect mini-celebrities, whom they see dressed and primped to perfection. Hyper- edited photos of celebrities like Selena Gomez in a bikini and flowers in her hair litter their newsfeeds, planting the notion that an ideal online identity has to feature flawless beauty. Nov, Naaman, and Ye also make observation on this topic by stating, “The more a user is motivated by self-development, the more the user will focus their efforts on the quality (rather than the quantity) of the photos shared”(Nov, Naaman, Ye). In order to develop an identity of perfection, just like celebrities, girl focus on the quality of each photo by picking the perfect filter, angle, and body position. However, the girls posting these pictures are not the only perpetrators of creating the culture of perfection identity. The very structure of Instagram itself allows for beauty and perfection to be easily implemented: Instagram does not place a specific time or date stamp on any of its photos, but instead gives a small indicator of how long ago the photo was posted, For example, in the top right comer a photo will say ‘2d’ indicating that the photo was taken two days ago, instead of using February 28", 2014, This concept is expanded upon in the + Reading the local through social media” by Hochman article, “Zooming into an Instagram Cit and Manovich. They write, “What we get is a coexistence or contemporaneous state in which all photos occur to us at the same time, no matter how different they gre, when or where they were taken. [... images become ‘timeless’*(Hochman and Manovich). This generalization of time in the structure of Instagram allows for users to be fully immersed and able to wash over large amount of photos instead of getting weighed down at one specific photo that corresponds with a time and place. With this wash over comes the consumption of an overwhelming amount of perfection and beautiful people in photos, feeding the idea that everyone should be and is in fact perfect online Since everyone appears to be perfect online, then every girl should strive to fit into this perfection ideal. Edited photos, whether that be through filters, physicality, or structure Hamilton 8 of timing on Instagram and Facebook, shape a culture for girls of perfection. Girls use these features to confine to the ideal online identity of perfection and beauty exemplified for them by celebrities and the culture at large, as they try to validate their own position in the social world. Overall, Instagram and Facebook create an environment for girls to build an ideal identity of popularity, perfection, and beauty through features like hashtags, commenting and liking a post, or the editing of fee from their social sphere begins to shape girls’ ideas of themselves, which can aid in the development or destruction their self-esteem. With this knowledge, it is important to recognize how our own actions on social media can build up or bring down the people we interact with. Understanding these concepts and dissecting the ‘motivations of these posts help in making both the world on and offline a little better, always v striving towards the goal of a world that reflects Christ and His kingdom. Hamilton 9 : Work Cited = Hochman, Nadav, and Lev Manovieh. "Zooming into an Instagram City: Reading the local through social media." First Monday 18 (2013). Wheaton College Buswell Library Network. Web. 26 Feb. 2014, ~ Nov, Oded, Mor Naaman, and Chen Ye. "Analysis of Participation in an Online Photo-Sharing ‘Community: a Multidimensional Perspective." Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology. 61.3 (2010): 555-566. Print. Schwarz, Ori. "On Friendship, Boobs and the Logie of the Catalogue: Online Self-Portraits as a Means for the Exchange of Capital." Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies (2010): 163-83. Wheaton College Buswell Library Network. Web. 26 Feb. 2014. © Siapera, Eugenia. Understanding New Media, London: SAGE Publications, 2012. 173. Print. = Utza, Sonja, and Camiel J. Beukeboom. "The Role of Social Network Sites in Romantic Relationships: Effects on Jealousy and Relationship Happiness.” Journal of Computer- Mediated Communication 16.4 (2011): 511-27. Wheaton College Buswell Library Network. Web. 26 Feb. 2014, __ Zhang, Yin, Leo ST. Tang, and Louis Leung, "Gratifications, Collective Self-Esteem, Online Emotional Openness, and Traitlike Communication Apprehension As Predictors of Facebook Uses." Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking. 14.12 (2011): 733+ 739. Print. ‘COMM 243 ~ Digital Society ~ Spring 2014 Case Study Paper — Grading Sheet Name: Becca Hamitton Content, Organization, and Citation (80 pts) tt 1. Thedidesatinn onplnsestilion nie pnemetvodbt it diartinn tn pre nig 2. The paper discusses the topic with sufficient focus and depth in the given space (18 pts) al Ged analyses <6 gendered cott-Troye + thenteiy) Hava sorrel welin +4 effecta 3. Arguments are well supported with specific examples and evidences (12 pts) VW yeseawh + exanngka 4, The paper demonstrates the writer's critical understanding of the topic (12 pts) =O. What ore tho. soctal tmplications 2, 5, The sections are organized to flow in a logical order (8 pts) Rs 6. The paper concludes with clear, insightful summary statements (6 pts) re 7. Atleast 6 scholarly and high-quality sources are cited as necessary and appropriate (10 pts) 7 ahegvatian of guetta 8. All in-text citations have corresponding bibliography entry, and the bibliography follows proper ‘APA or MLA format (8 pts) do ‘Writing and Presentation (20 pts) Y 9. The writing is clear, concise, and understandable (5 pts) S. 10, There are no (or very few) mistakes in grammar, spelling, and punctuation (5 pts) 1. Th paper pe ial oi a ested cog to the sven loon (2: ct ‘typelsize, stapled, numbered, double spacing, margins, etc.) (5 pts) 12. The paper is 7-9 pages long (5 pts)” 2S ‘Total: /100 pts (15%)