Tag Archives: Internet

The Selfie and Self Empowerment?

The act of taking a picture of oneself has somehow become a very contested topic. Some call it conceited and narcissistic, and others view it as self-love, body positivity and self-empowerment through positive reinforcement. However how did we get here and why has something which seems so innocent gained so much hate?

A google search of the word ‘Selfie’ brings up an array of different results. After the Wiki page, the first link is one which takes you to a pornographic site, ‘Half Nude Selfies: Hot Sexy Selfies- Almost Naked Girls’. The second link is one which contains ‘fitness’ selfies alongside a Pinterest post on how to take good selfies. Further down the page you reach a Career One post about what your selfies say about you in a professional sense. Now the broad results shown by the term are explore how diverse the selfie has become. Not only have they become somewhat sexualized, they also have become a part of how we ‘brand’ ourselves in the sense of how we want other people to view our online personas.

 

One interesting commentary on the act of selfie taking was completed by the artist Shahak Shapira in his piece ‘Yolocaust‘.  After being fed up with people taking photos of themselves often depicting light hearted takes at questionable locations and sharing them on the internet. He compiled a collection of these photos and contrasted them with what the selfies were essentially mocking. One of the examples was selfies being taken at the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin.

 

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Image Credit- ‘Yolocaust’ Shahak Shapira, 2017

The juxtaposition of these selfies exposes how people often take photos without thinking at many places, especially when travelling, even if it may be considered disrespectful. The Holocaust Memorial in Berlin was constructed in memory of all who were killed and suffered during WW11 in concentration camps and due to persecution. Placing the selfies in real images from these times shows how idiotic it is to use such a place of mourning and memory to snap a quick piccy for Instagram or Facebook.

 

This constant posting of photos and selfies on numerous social media accounts, relates to the increasing trend of individuals attempting to ‘brand’ themselves in their online persona. By creating an interesting profile where individuals come off as happy, adventurous and living exciting lives, people are ultimately creating consumers out of their friends lists. Where the individual has the control to choose what parts of them and their life are consumed. It’s easy to post about the fabulous dinner you just had a fancy restaurant accompanied by a photo of yourself and 3 other friends with delicious looking plates of food in front of you. Followed by a quirky caption of course. However what probably isn’t seen quite as regularly is the following Monday’s dinner when you come home from work, too tired to go grocery shopping and too poor for takeout so you literally settle for a bowl of Weet-Bix to sustain yourself. Unless you’re running the Uni Students on a Budget Facebook page, this usually isn’t the image people portray of themselves, online where anybody is able to see and judge.

 

The ability to choose what we convey ourselves as online has lead to some discussions regarding female sexuality and empowerment. Many girls post selfies of themselves on Instagram and Facebook which sometimes lead to backlash. Posting naked or nude selfies online has been criticized and praised by equal amounts. Many people are quick to ‘slut-shame’, claim those who post the pictures are attention seeking whores who are just hungry for likes. But many also find the act of posting these pictures themselves, and thus controlling their self-image in this way is empowering and beneficial for self- confidence reasons. Citing that it really doesn’t matter to anyone else what girls (and sometimes boy’s) post of themselves on the internet, and people should have the right to choose to do so without hate. One of the recent famous examples of this was a photo posted by Kim Kardashian after giving birth and celebrating her return to her normal weight.

 

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The selfie has been ridiculed and laughed at, but really there is a lot more to them than just a quirky self-portrait followed by a humorous caption. The logistics of creating an online persona go way deeper than ‘just a photo’, with technology shaping the way we allow others to see us constantly.

The Wonderful World of the Internet

 

I had a conversation with my Dad, who designs and writes computer software about how he thinks the internet has changed and molded and how we complete tasks and access information.

Dad first begun using the internet for work in 1989, which is no surprise for a software architect. He mainly used it to access information which was not easily accessible for the public, like Microsoft developer help info alongside communication through emails. He can’t recall the name of the search engine he used, but it wasn’t Google as that wasn’t released for another 9 years.

Today he claims the way he conducts his time when connected to the internet hasn’t really changed as he still mainly uses it for work as well as reading the news, using search engines, reading his daughters blog posts (excuse the shameless self promotion) and occasionally indulging in a good Netflix binge.

He still buys The Sydney Morning Herald in the morning to read on the train on the way to work only doing so for the following 3 reasons;

  1. Habit
  2. The cryptic crosswords and Sodukus
  3. The high amount of internet black spots on the train from Gymea to the City

A lot of the articles in the newspaper he has already read the night before online apparently.

When we first got internet at home for domestic use, was in 1999 when I was 4. We mainly did this as we had a number of International High School Exchange students staying with us over a period of about 3-4 years and they needed a cheap and efficient way of communicating to family and friends back home. So it is hard for me to recall a time without internet access. We started with just a common dial up which dad claims originally ran at 300 baud (allegedly this is pretty fast for the time) and it was mainly used for emails and Google.

We had dial up internet for at least 10 years which begun to get painful during my brother and I’s teenage years as all of our friends would be able to call us on the home phone, while still talking to their crush on MSN. We were finally afforded this multitasking luxury in about 2011 and dad invested in a WIFI modem. Dad says the reason we upgraded is because we begun accumulating technology such as laptops, gaming consoles, and smart phones which all could utilize wireless connection to the internet.Until then my brother and I were restricted to using the internet on dad’s laptop under supervision, as we were still kids both of our parents felt the internet to be too big, too scary and unknown for us to wander alone. Hey they’re not wrong. Dad noted that the internet is just life every other aspect of his life where he had to ensure we weren’t being Catfished because he hates reality TV shows.

Today dad counted we have 9 devices in the household which are connected to the WIFI including the printer and the TV. One of the things he (and the rest of the world) loves about the Internet is the communication aspect. As we grew up in New Zealand and the majority of our relatives still live over there and the internet allows us instant contact 4,155 kms away and platforms like Facebook can show us whats going on in their lives without us physically being there.

Dad’s parents lived in a little town called Granity on the West Coast of New Zealand, Dad gave them our old computer and set up a dial up internet connection for them in 2001. This opened up a whole new world of information previously inaccessible to them. My Grandad would look up old German Submarine songs from WW2 and my grandparents had the ability to communicate to all of their children and grandchildren through email. As international calls and even domestic calls can often be somewhat expensive, this gave them communication to the outside world alongside access to multitudes of information all for the same monthly price.

Dad also mentioned the fact that when he traveled the world as a youngster, he’d have to write letters home and get photos developed to show people when he got back. He loved the fact that when I went for Europe for 6 weeks at the beginning of the year, I would have a constant stream of communication back home about what we were doing that day and where we were, also sending back photos every night through media spaces such as Facebook and Viber.

The internet opened up a world of opportunities for information and communication worldwide. Even though some of it can be scary and confusing and make you wanna just…

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There’s is so much of this…

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And sometimes a virtual hug from a far away friend is all you need…

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The fact we have seen the birth and the growth of the internet is phenomenal and amazing.

Media Spaces and Those Fortunate Enough With Access

Growing up at the end of Gen Y, I have been exposed to many different media formats from a young age. I witnessed the rise of the DVD and the fall of the VCR. The first ‘Media Space’ I constructed to begin the shaping of my online identity was a Bebo profile made at the age of 12 quickly followed by an MSN account. These accounts spread like wildfire through school with everyone asking each other

 

‘You gonna be on MSN this arvo?’

 

Is that not the most Aussie playground phrase ever?

 

These accounts gave us kids a means of communication and a link to the outside world, as back in the day only a lucky few had access to mobile phones. Jumping on our parents computers and internet connections which were shared with the phone line, was an easy means to communicate with our peers. The most exciting thing was that it was not only new to us as children, it was a new concept for the rest of the world and we were among the first to test out instant messaging.

 

Now today that feels like ancient history as I type this on my laptop connected to the internet through Wifi on the lawn at Uni. For me ‘Media Space’ is less immersive these days in the sense that it is so easy to connect to anywhere in my world no matter where you are. You’re less grounded to a particular place such as the computer room, rooted to the desktop computer connected to the phone line. Of which, you would have to quickly vacate when mum had to call her friend Kate. The notion of engaging with one aspect of technology at a time is long gone. I personally have on numerous occasions scrolled through Facebook on my phone using Wifi, while my friend is on speakerphone, sitting in front of the TV and having my laptop on my lap to do uni work simultaneously.

 

Currently I am studying a Bachelor of Communications and International Studies majoring in Global Communications and Sustainable Development in my 3rd year. My degree is constantly shifting and changing with the times and I firmly believe if I tried to take it in say the 1980’s, my degree would either be a completely different course or not exist entirely. I constantly rely on the different Media Spaces to complete my course work both on Moodle and researching for assignments. I think I have only ever used a hard copy book in one assignment and I hated every second of it.

 

Wifi access is something you don’t think about until it’s not there or not working. I have scoped out all the best places for decent Wifi at uni, nothing worse than trying to watch a lecture that keeps dropping out. Throughout my 3 years studying at Wollongong they have improved their internet connectivity immensely which I find makes lectures and tutes less stressful. If you don’t understand something, a decent connection means you have instantaneous information at your fingertips. Which is an incredible concept.

 

Media Space has become a part of everyday life for many privileged individuals living within the global north. However there are still many people globally who lack internet and even phone access, inhibiting communication. The Washington Post reported  that a lack of internet connectivity worldwide affects 4.4 billion people and this correlates for the most part with individuals living in impoverished areas who already lack basic necessities like health care, education, infrastructure and employment with a further 900 million of those people being illiterate.

 

I find this puts an interesting perspective on what we call ‘the world wide web’. As apparently it doesn’t have the global reach once thought. As Media Spaces not just online, but through TV and phone communications can be enriching learning experiences about the world around us, the fact that this is unequally distributed means that 4.4 billion people miss out on educational experiences, having their say and creating online personas to connect to the world around them. With this in mind, I feel it puts another take on the concept of ‘Media Spaces’ which could be visualized as pockets around the world connected to other pockets, instead of a globally encompassing form of communication.

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This image highlights the areas where those are connected and the dark pockets of the areas where individuals miss out.
However, as immersed as my world has become in alternative media spaces, realistically I only got my first MSN account 8 years ago. It feels that we have progressed so far in those 8 years already, imagine what media spaces will hold for the next 8.