Where is The Chill? Important Questions to Ask Ourselves when Social Media Reporting.


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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.

9 thoughts on “Where is The Chill? Important Questions to Ask Ourselves when Social Media Reporting.

  1. natalypalma

    We are becoming our own paparazzi by constantly posting what we’re doing every second..I can’t believe that girl snapchatted (???) her car accident! I think social media is making us a little vain and you’re right about the: “if you don’t take a picture..it never happened.” Humans like to show off, we usually only post the awesome things in our lives. I wonder why that girl decided to post that? Because she wanted everyone to know she was in a car accident? But there are bigger priorities! Crazy.

  2. ErikaFriesenN

    I feel like growing up we were always hearing in the back of our minds, “Pictures.. or it didn’t happen.” In this incident we can see how a whole chain of events occurred through one snapchat. People are more inclined to snapchat negative incidents from recklessness to have a story to tell. As humans we are generally vain, we enjoy the occasional selfie and to broadcast snippets of our lives even when it means enjoying our usual taco Tuesdays. I think its a really good and pertinent point to bring up the paparazzi and media as an example. We are always drawn to the lives of celebrities even if its doing the normal everyday things.

  3. emdesur

    I really like this idea of asking the question, “Why are you sharing this?”. I often post things without taking time to think about why I am posting it. I think asking this question about social media posts is important in the same way that people that don’t have anything nice to say, shouldn’t say anything at all. Maybe if that person had thought about what they were doing instead of trying to post pictures to their fans, they wouldn’t have gotten in that car accident!

  4. ShanyaNorman

    I can’t believe that this accident was really put on SnapStory by those involved in it. The concept of posting this to public is so crazy and ridiculous to me that I kept thinking that these snapshots were fake or something. I think your whole post brings up an interesting point about appropriateness of posting when it comes to social media, as I also wrote about it for my blog post this week too. Where do you draw the line on what to publicly share? I know I definitely have posted stuff that can be seen as questionable, but why do we do it? I also think the medium of Snapchat is unique in this situation because, at least for me, the idea that your snapchat or snapstory is convenient to post little tidbits of your life and they will disappear after 24 hours makes it more enticing to post almost anything and everything without even really thinking of what it is you are sharing.

  5. William Lam

    I think by now, looking at all my blog posts, the class can tell I’m a huge celebrity pop culture junkie. That being said, I love the connection you made with Beyonce/Jay-Z. Similar to my post talking about how celebrities are now starting to report their own news, we as millennials do like to report ourselves as well. The question you raise is tough to answer, though. No one really knows why we’re reporting what we’re reporting exactly; we can only speculate motives, but I don’t think we’ll ever be able to see exactly why we post things. Kudos to you on your social media content filtering, though. I know sometimes I post things without thinking, which sometimes turn out badly.

  6. frcarbonellm

    Sometime I ask myself before I post to Facebook or Instagram: “will anyone care if I post this? will anyone like it, comment on it, or share it? do I care enough by now after having considered all of this to post this?” By this point I usually have given up and I don’t post anything. I would say this is more true for Facebook where I now post maybe just weekly. Instagram on the other hand I post to maybe two or three times a week. I understand the idea of reporting on yourself before anyone else does, but I wonder, do people care enough about others than themselves to post about them on Facebook? I am being a pessimist when I say this but I see these social media outlets and pedestals of pride and vanity. People don’t post selfies for other people, they post them for themselves with the hope or even the expectation that others like it or comment on it.
    I like how you brought up the argument that if there are no pictures it didn’t happen. For this reason I’m all for taking photos of sunsets, tourist attractions, parties, events, places, and even food. I question though, how do selfies play into this idea. Yes the photos of the car accident go to prove it happened, but is it necessary. I would personally try to forget something like that, I wouldn’t want visual reminders. I guess to each their own.

  7. bhesslegrave

    Yeah I definitely appreciate and agree with this type of contemplative style of posting. Not just “Is this interesting?” But “Is this actually meaningful?” It’s one-click easy to share, but it disrupts the process to question your own motives. It’s also pretty interesting this idea about “pictures or it didn’t happen”. This is what I find so interesting about Snapchat. The functional aspect that only allows you to take real time photos (meaning you can’t just upload an old picture a la Instagram) means that you are there, right now, experiencing that. With this, you can’t falsify a picture or falsify your experience as it presents itself to others.

  8. prisahdev

    I have come across photos before by my friends on instagram of car accidents as well — one with three pictures one of the car one of his beaten up face and one of his casts titled “don’t” “drink” “&drive”. Even with these photos with the message behind it, it seemed really personal and odd to put on social media, especially because he was the person who was drunk driving. I know there was definitely a message behind this, and it was a good one–but still it left me really surprised that he chose to broadcast what had happened so openly.
    In this scenario as well, it is interesting how she has to post her accident to almost make it real and show others how bad it was. I feel like there is this line that is very gray that some people see and others don’t about what is appropriate to put on social media.

  9. sofreshsteph

    Very well written and I like the points you made. 🙂
    I’m sure that girl called the police since she had her phone….so maybe the picture was taken in between the time the abulance could get there and the time it happened. I feel like…. in some weird sort of way she was trying to reach out for help and maybe if she has a lot of friends on snapchat someone could have gotten to her faster than the medics? Maybe it was to show she was okay, but also in need of help… I have no idea. And yeah, maybe she was trying to report her own stuff… the only way she knew how

    It’s definitely a bit odd… and I think it’s important to ask if it’s worth it, before posting something that prepetuates an idea you do not approve of.

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