Often when I engage in social media practices, like posting status updates, selfies, or amusing anecdotes, I ask myself the very important question: “Why are you sharing this?” and if my honest answer is a little too vain or unfair to someone else -I decide not to post. This Snap Chat story above probably would have benefited from that inner monologue but I guess they probably didn’t have time to think once the car flipped. But the last time I had this conversation with myself I did decide to opt out of posting a photoset on Tumblr of Beyoncé and Jay-Z apparently fighting at a restaurant. I think taking photos of celebrities at restaurants without their knowledge is so inappropriate. Have you no shame? Just eat your food, and maybe if you absolutely have to you can tweet “OMG JAYONCE all up in Chipotle!!!”.
But it is like the mantra of social media: “if you don’t take a picture, it never happened”.
As an avid Beyoncé “stan” I was going to repost the photos with the caption “Believe half of what you see and none of what you hear”, as a way of commenting on how extremely out of context celebrity photos are taken. But by posting this, I had to admit I was just as guilty as the original iPhone paparazzo. Why did I need to make this public indictment to expose the exposer? Why did I have to perpetuate this event that was ultimately none of my business?
Danah Boyd’s article on “Super Publics” brings up the idea of how social media has made us all the reporters and in response to not wanting to be reported by others- we report ourselves first:
“Media is obsessed with revealing the backstage of people in the public eye – celebrities, politicians, etc. More recently, they’ve created a public eye to put people into – Survivor, Real World, etc. Open digital expression systems coupled with global networks took it one step farther by saying that anyone could operate as media and expose anyone else. What’s juicy is what people want to hide and thus, the media (all media) goes after this like hawks.
Should it surprise anyone that teenagers have responded by exposing everything with pride? What better way to react to a super public where everyone is working as paparazzi? There’s nothing juicy about exposing what’s already exposed. Do it yourself and you have nothing to worry about.”
When we are participating in social media we are all just being little reporters, reporting on each other and reporting on ourselves. It makes total perfect sense but where it gets tricky is being honest about why things need to be reported and what we are perpetuating by posting certain aspects of our lives and the lives of others. So like the writer of article about the obnoxiously inappropriate people at the very solemn Domino Sugar Factory exhibit suggest: we gotta have some chill. Not everything needs to be up for public consumption.