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Communicative Photos and Revisiting Smith and Watson

In class, we discussed how interpersonal communicative photos influence one’s identity, revisiting Smith and Watson’s idea of “Getting A Life”.

While Linkedin avatars are more professional, Facebook tends to show the best version of a person, and neither is the most accurate representation or mediation of one’s identity. Extending the look into our archive of photos and what is curated on Facebook, we find a hording of lifestyle photos as digital proof of our material life. Such practices that make up a life Smith and Watson call “sharing and advertising it to others”. We say this is performative, commodifying and an over-sharing dystopian. We revisited the question of whether we are “getting a life” or “doing a life”? Are we narrating a memoir or are we collaging trivial pieces of life together for an identity statement? Are we perpetuating Culture as Capital?

Looking at Memes and their communicative purposes, we found the importance of participating in a group and the feeling of relating or commiserating. We then found how certain Memes derived from the entertainment media endorses and reinforces such commercialism through pop culture, such as an action movie endorsing a certain brand of vehicle. Again do we see the obsession to obtain digital access, cultural capital and materializing it to “Get A Life”.

As we examined the purpose or patterns of Pinterest usage, we find that Pinterest lowers the barriers to allow a prefabricated world for us to aspire. For me, I pin when I am in the line for coffee, and I pin to sometimes vicariously live a life I cannot afford yet or plan to live in the short run. Is it merely something we aspire or is it another form of commercialization perpetuated? Again are we “Doing a Life” or “Getting a Life”?
As we attempt to approach these questions, let us also bear in mind Smith and Watson’s suggestion that many forms of institutions influence how life stories are formed. In this situation, includes day-time television stations, music labels that shape certain permissible narratives. If we look at pre-Facebook times, we had Myspace to curate our material life under the influence of the aforementioned institutes. Again we needed digital access to obtain that cultural performance. How is one, or how difficult is one to escape such permissible narratives? And as we move forward in time, what kind of digital society do we wish to create?


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