Essay Submission

Disclaimer: I’m not sure If I’m meant to post this on here! The assessment said Blog entry link, so I’m posting it anyway.

Social media has become an integral part everyday life for me and my peers. Whether its having Facebook sitting idly in the background as I try to study or scrolling through Instagram before bed, I will always have a device that can access the internet on me. This heavy reliance on the web is a product of a generation growing up with Web 2.0. I refer to Web 2.0 as the era of a more interactive and collaborative online space for users evolving from the Web 1.0’s restricted purpose of ‘reading and watching content’ (Hinton & Hjorth 2013). This interactivity inspired user generated content and the rise of prosumers, consumers who produce and share their own cultural works online (Sokolova 2012). Social networking sites and Blogs presented a forum for people to share their opinions and thoughts on a topic of their choosing from mundane personal experiences (usually in the form of a meme) to passionate manifestos and digital activism. While the Web might be more democratic than the capitalist system existing outside the Web, not all users are equal (Hinton & Hjorth 2013). My reflective essay will explore the way that ‘likes’ and ‘post interactions’ create a ranking system that ultimately influences my online behaviour.

 

In order to analyse my online behaviour I monitored my online media use over a period of a week. I recorded my findings at the end of the day and found routines; checking my PTV and weather app in the morning, scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed on the train to kill time, having a Facebook tab open on my laptop while I focused on other things. Posed with the question ‘are you a publisher, author or distributor?’, I realised that my media practices fit into a different category, one that I call an ‘observer’. As an observer, I would find entertainment in observing content from my peers and the pages that I follow on social media, however I myself would not post or share content. If I felt the desire to share I would do so privately over WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger rather than post publicly onto my, or my friend’s timeline. It’s important to note that I still consider myself an active consumer in online media despite categorising myself as an observer. I think, reflect and learn whilst observing online content and will often bring up what I’ve read with my peers in person. As I became more aware of my online media practices, I also began to be a bit more intentional. Intentionality didn’t change my behaviour exactly, but it made me critically analyse why it is that I have these behaviours.

 

My documentation not only enabled me categorise myself as an observer, it helped me to understand why. The reason I didn’t post very often on my social media channels was the fear that I wouldn’t receive many likes or interactions. When I came to that realisation I thought I sounded superficial, disappointed in myself that I needed virtual validation. Kaplan and Haenlein (2010) explained why it was that I was feeling this way. In their article ‘Users of the world unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media’, the authors explore the idea that the public actions that people take online builds into this cyber persona which people believe reflect who they are. When people react to posts, its public confirmation and approval of these online personas and their corresponding opinions and content. When I don’t receive many likes on a post, it discourages me from posting again. Do people not care what I have to say? Is my content not good enough? Do people not like my online persona? The phrase ‘If you have nothing good to say, don’t say it’ comes to mind. In my critical spiral, I began to notice that likes were a form of currency on social media. Facebook’s algorithms display the most popular posts higher above posts that don’t receive many likes or post interactions on the newsfeed.


Something that I noticed about my online practice was that I would always open the Facebook app before the Instagram app and spend a longer time on the former.

Kaplan and Haenlein analyse Media Richness Theory which suggests that different media possess varying levels of richness. This theory is demonstrated in my choice to spend my 1.5 gigs of data on Facebook and not Instagram. I believe Facebook is a richer media due to it’s wide variety of content; news articles, photos, videos, my friend’s posts, memes.

 

Documenting and analysing my online media use was confronting but also essential. Due to the sheer amount of time that I spend consuming social media, being intentional is a necessity. I think it’s interesting that although Web 2.0 presented opportunities for users to be equal and to get their voices out there, a system of ranking still developed. I would’ve liked to explore examples of popular content that does receive post interactions and the users behind the posts. How often they post, what they post about, if the content came from another user would it still receive the same post interactions? I believe that a survey on how many people (in the class) believe that their online presence is self-reflective would have made my essay stronger to reveal a more universal truth that extends beyond my own practice. From my practice I found that the Web and my online persona doesn’t exist as a separate entity or a parallel universe, but as an extension of who I am. My fears of rejection which I thought only existed in ‘real-life’ manifested in my online behaviour. I do find however that this hesitancy to post doesn’t extend to my professional practice as a social media manager. In my blog posts I mention that posting for a brand/organisation is creating an entirely new persona and therefore failing to receive post interactions and positive feedback will not affect my self-perception. Examples of popular content would’ve been useful in this instance as well as it would’ve allowed me to strengthen my own content creation as a social media manager. Overall, the process of analysing my own media use has given me insight into what I can do with online media, as myself and as a social media manager.

 


References

Hinton, S. and Hjorth, L., Understanding Social Media. London, United Kingdom: Sage Publications, 2013. Print.

Kaplan, A.M. and Haenlein, M., 2010. Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media. Business horizons, 53(1), pp.59-68.

Sokolova, N., 2012. Co-opting Transmedia Consumers: User Content as Entertainment or ‘Free Labour’? The Cases of STALKER. and Metro 2033. Europe-Asia Studies, 64(8), pp.1565-1583.

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Reflection on the reflection

Looking at my evidence and the documentation process, It would have been interesting if I had I documented what posts I saw, who was the one posting them and the amount of interactions that each post received.  At the end of each day, I found it hard to remember all the posts that I saw on social media and therefore decided it wouldn’t be something that I would document- especially because it couldn’t fill the 250+ words requirement!

The fact that I couldn’t remember these posts says something in and of itself. It highlights the short window that posts have before they become irrelevant and out-dated- replaced by newer posts. The same can be said then for likes and validation on social media, its all short-lived. I think that this is where users can become popular authors and distributors, when they consistently produce relevant and entertaining content so that their validation extends beyond post likes.

In my evaluation I explored how this hesitancy to post effects my personal online persona, however I believe theres room to explore how this effects my professional online practice. After all- I can’t be hesitant to post as a social media manager. I do believe that they are two seperate things though, one is more personal and challenges my social worth (online at least) and the other is a bit more distanced and less reflective on who I am as a person.

When posting for Co-Ground, I’m adopting the persona of the social enterprise. When the posts don’t receive many likes, I keep churning out content to try and find a style that resonates with the followers- theres no room to take it personally.

From my evidence, evaluation and this reflection, one statement has stood out that I would like to focus on.

In my essay I would like to explore ‘likes’ as an online currency and the way that ‘post interactions’ influence online behaviour; as an author, publisher, distributor and even as an observer.

 

 

 

 

Evaluation

Reflecting on my evidence, I have come to the conclusion that I am more of an observer than an author, publisher or distributor.

It was interesting to analyse my online use…

I found that I would hold back from posting things onto my social media pages for fear of not receiving enough likes. In real life I consider myself an activist and will engage in discussion with my peers however my online behaviour doesn’t reflect this.

It has lead me to consider why it is that I care so much about immaterial, online likes?
Likes, reactions, shares, comments- Interactions essentially, have become a mode of currency online that rank your content above other people’s. Thats just the way that Facebook runs. The algorithms for the newsfeed ensures that you will see ‘top posts’- friends/people who have received a lot of interactions with their posts before you will see the less popular posts.

If I did find something interesting I would share it with my friends personally, via Facebook Messenger or Whatsapp. Automatically, and probably subconsciously, I developed this fear of not receiving enough currency on my posts and therefore resorted to not share at all.

Evidence

Evidence

In order to better understand media practices and online usage I recorded my daily media use over the period of a week. I would get to the end of my day, and recount everything that I did that day, trying to remember specifically the times that I was online.

When I was online and engaging with media, I would go through the motions without thinking twice about what it was that I was doing, sometimes completely unaware that I was engaging at all- scrolling through my newsfeed. During my daily reflections I became more intentional about my media use and discovered how integral it is to how I live my life.

Each day I would engage with different online mediums for various periods of time, however every day featured Google, Gmail, Facebook, Instagram, PTV and my WeatherZone app.

What I found was that I was more of an observer than a creator, author or publisher. While you can give a voice to the people, not everyone’s voices want to be heard. I found that online validation influenced how I behaved online. I would rather share something privately than post publicly onto a friend’s wall. I rarely posted a status because I feared I wouldn’t get enough likes. Objectively, I recognise that these fears are ridiculous. I know Facebook and Instagram likes don’t represent my real-life worth in the slightest form.

Yet, this is the way that people engage on the Web 2.0. We as a community of users and consumers have developed a ‘worth’ system based on likes (and now shares, comments and reactions) and whether I like it or not, it has influenced the way I engage with online media.

 

 

“Work, work, work, work, work, work”

Monday 27th- Day 7

The majority of my time online today consisted of research for university.

Half of the time I was looking up the latest technology. I would read articles suggested by Google based on my search for “Technology trends 2017”. I found that I retained more information from articles with pictures and videos. If there was a particularly interesting concept/article I would link it on Facebook Messenger to my group who would also send their findings.

The top ten articles were from Forbes, Tech companies, blogs dedicated to tech trends, and blogs/magazines dedicated to business. I found that I would only stay on the first page of results, clicking around 5 links before I would type something else into Google. It did make me wonder why these websites were higher up than others when searching. I’ve heard before that Google promotes websites that are more user-friendly, but to me there wasn’t anything exceptional about the interface design that warranted such a high ranking in the search. Perhaps they are websites that pay more, or use my key words more. This would be an interesting area to study and something I’d like to follow up on- perhaps after my assignment!

The other half of my time I spent looking up readings to support my essay. In order to find peer reviewed articles I would use Google Scholar from the RMIT Library and scan the internet for readings to do with participatory culture, convergence culture and prosumers in transmedia. I had tried to find readings without logging into RMIT and found that I didn’t have access to the full PDFs. The amount of options that I received once I had logged in was frankly relieving.

A feature Google Scholar that I am fond of is the citing feature. I found that if I typed in the reading, it would automatically cite it for me in whichever reference style I preferred, in this case Harvard referencing. This feature demonstrated that Google Scholar isn’t just a search engine of peer reviewed articles.

Title Song: “Work”- Rihanna feat. Drake

“I see you lookin’ at me Like I’m some kind of freak”

Sunday 26th- Day 6

This morning I went through the hashtag from last night, #coground, viewing other attendees’ photos and liking them from the official Co-Ground account. I posted 4 times throughout the day on the official Instagram, all photos from last night.

I also posted ‘multiple’ photos on Instagram for the first time. This is a relatively new feature that Instagram has introduced and works similar to a photo carousel. One might argue that if you wanted to upload multiple photos you could do many posts- but I already don’t like posting often and don’t want to spam my followers.
Another option is to create a collage of photos, but to me that isn’t aesthetically pleasing- the whole point of Instagram!

On my personal Instagram account I posted three photos. One I thought I looked good in, one that I felt summed up my night nicely and one of my friends. Individually I didn’t think the photos stood out, but together they make a nice story.

Treated almost like an album, one can comment on the collective of photos and not on individual photos- which to me, equals more likes. If this is sounding quite shallow I recommend reading my first post about regarding my opinion on liking.

After posting I scrolled through my Instagram feed, liking posts that I felt had A+ content as well as the obligatory liking of my close friends’ posts, regardless of the content. Many of these close friends returned the favour and liked the photos I had just posted. Generally I have the same people liking my posts every time and receive 40-50 likes all up.

I do have over 300 followers on Instagram and I often wonder how many of them see my posts and keep scrolling. Apparently, over 250/260 of them! This is also why I liked my experience with Instagram stories precisely because I could see who views my posts.

I’m not too bothered by it.

Title Song: “Do Somethin”- Britney Spears

 

“How many mistakes do it take ’til you leave”

Saturday 25th- Day 5

Tonight Co-Ground, a social enterprise that I am the Social Media Manager of, had a massive launch event. Throughout the night I was on both Instagram and Facebook posting photo updates of the night.

For Instagram, each post was accompanied by these set of hashtags which we devised prior to the event:
#partywithpurpose #beanthechange #socialenterprise #party #freeparty #urbanlist #melbournenightlife #collingwood #fitzroytodo #espressomartini

As we are a charity we don’t sponsor posts on Facebook or Instagram so the hashtags allows for a wider audience to see our posts, beyond our current followers.
Facebook I’ve found has less of a hashtag culture than Twitter and Instagram so I will generally keep the same caption used on Instagram posts but lose the hashtags.

During the middle of the night I also clicked on these hashtags and liked a couple of posts with the intention of being noticed. For example if someone was in #collingwood we could inform them about our party happening in the same neighbourhood by simply liking their photo. Well, thats the goal.

We also formed an Instagram Story for Co-Ground to tie it all together. I posted photos to the story that were different to the photos posted on the Instagram feed. This ensured that content was more interesting and no repetition for those who view both our story and feed.

I think its hard to draw the line between updating and spamming- the dangerous side to posting too often. While I am trying to gain followers, I could risk losing them by saturating their feed. Ultimately I believe that the way to do this successfully is to put spending behind posts. That way there only needs to be one, quality content post which new audiences can see. Co-Ground wouldn’t need to rely on people sharing and interacting with their posts to get the word out.

Alas, Co-Ground is non-for-profit with all the profits going towards education and livelihood programs in Vanuatu and the Phillipines. Sponsoring posts isn’t exactly a priority…yet.

 Title Song: “Dang”- Anderson .Paak

“I don’t think you ready for this jelly”

Friday 24th – Day 4

For most of the day today I spent my time copywriting and listening to Spotify.

I would like to think that I chose Spotify over Apple Music because I’m a music connoisseur- but I’m fairly sure I chose it because that’s what everyone else around me had. I’ve also heard from former Apple Music users that the artists who pay more will show up more, where Spotify will present them equally

As I am a Premium Spotify user, I enjoy the fact that I can save music to listen to when I’m offline- a feature that my 1.5 gigs of data can get on board with. This means that my time spent offline will generally consist of listening to the same bands over and over again. Chance The Rapper, Amy Winehouse, Boy and Bear, Chet Faker, Hiatus Kaiyote- a diverse enough mix for whatever offline mood I’m in.

When I’m online, I’ll stream playlists and enjoy music that I don’t know the words to. This is partly because I like to explore new music and partly because it doesn’t distract my copywriting (very much).  When the words playing through my head are “I don’t think you ready for this jelly” its hard not to think of sentences that don’t end in jelly.

Spotify has a feature that you can make what you’re listening to public for your friends to see- a feature that I have firmly turned off. This is because A- I don’t want my music to be a public experience and B- sometimes I just want to listen to One Direction without being judged!

I do however enjoy seeing what other people are listening to. I like to follow playlists that my friends make and suggest possible additions. These Spotify collaboration playlists reach their peak when we’re together grooving to our creation.

Title Song: “Bootylicious”- Destiny’s Child

“Put my foot down yeah my hands up”

Thursday 23rd- Day 3

This evening when I got back from work I felt like kicking my (very sore) feet up and watching something that I wouldn’t have to think too hard about.

I ended up watching four episodes of ‘Don’t trust the B- In apartment 23′ on Netflix. I’m wouldn’t say I’m the show’s biggest fan, but it fulfilled the purpose of little to no effort. Netflix had my back. I didn’t have to change the channel or even manually select the next episode, autoplay doing the work for me so I could truly relax.

Had it been Foxtel I would’ve had to scroll through the whole TV guide to see what was on, pray I wasn’t catching the end of something I wanted to watch or tuning in awkwardly through the middle.

I have a family Netflix account which allows me to mooch off my parents’ subscription. I figured one streaming site was enough, and so don’t have a Stan or Presto account. Generally I can find what I’m looking for or an entertaining substitute on Netflix.

Another thing to note is that most of the shows that are recommended to me are from Netflix and are rarely from Stan. I’m sure I would like the shows on Stan, perhaps even more than Netflix. But because they are hardly mentioned in conversations on Facebook and Twitter, I believe that Netflix is the better account to subscribe to.

Series are my favourite things to watch on Netflix, purely because I love getting hooked onto story lines and having episodes after episodes lined up for me to consume. I tend to start series that friends or the internet have recommended for me, this being the case with Stranger things, Please Like Me, Jane the Virgin, Love Sick, American Horror Story…

I recently finished Please Like Me, however I felt like I was thrown into it again when my friend who is in the middle of the series began catching me up on where she’s up to and her viewing experience.

I generally won’t re-watch series (with the exception of Gossip Girl), but I will a movie, Legally Blond a classic cheer me up and a film I watch at least once every two months.

Title Song: “7/11”- Beyonce

 

“Am I Wrong?”

Blogging is awesome because it gives Average Joe’s the opportunity to publish their voice to a public forum.

However, just because these Joe’s have been given a platform, doesn’t mean they can do whatever they want. There are a list of ethical procedures that bloggers should keep in mind when blogging. This ensures that bloggers are intentional about their opinions and what they present to their viewers.

Because of the multitude of blogs that exist, it is important to reference articles and sources when stating your opinion, and even more importantly, stating facts. Hyperlinking is a popular tool that bloggers use to reference other works which gives the audience an opportunity to read more from the source.
Its important to realise that by posting your blog to a public space, there will be repercussions. This article about ethical blogging talks about bloggers allowing free speech to occur in the comments of their posts, with the exception of ‘extreme’ comments. While I believe that its important to encourage free speech, it is important to differentiate free speech from hateful speech.  If a blog is for and about Queers, POCs, or any minority for that matter, it is not ok for everyone to comment- regardless of what that comment is. I think it is incredible and essential that these opinions can be heard on a public forum, especially for the people in their community. It is our duty as ethical bloggers to keep this in mind, that ethics extend beyond our own posts and should determine how we interact and engage with other blogs. Not every space is your space.

The ethical list also mentions being prompt to correct mistakes. This means if a fact is incorrect or perhaps you have mistakenly said something, you either delete it or you strike a line through it as soon as you are made aware. I think this ethical value is extremely important and something I see quite often of Facebook.

I have seen people comment on a post solely to correct the language within a post and suggest a re-phrase in an un-harmful manner. Posts are usually corrected quickly as no malice is intended (I have open-minded friends). From these experiences, the user behind the post (and other readers like myself) become aware of the miscorrection and can go forward without repeating. Readers could now appreciate, or not appreciate, the post for what it is.

The main lesson here is to think before you blog. Be respectful and mindful, and remember to pay credit where credit is due.

 

 

 

 

Title Song: “Am I Wrong?”- Anderson .Paak