Me, myself, and my selfie: Ways of understanding selfies (SMSociety15 Workshop)

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I just wanted to take a moment to reflect on the selfies workshop that I had the honour to be a part of yesterday at the Social Media & Society 2015 conference. We had a great turn out for a session we called “Selfies: Inter-faces and ‘me’-diated bodies”, which we packed with 10-minute presentations and interactive questions/brainstorming activities. Katie Warfield kicked us off, explaining that our workshop themes could be positioned within the recent release of two bodies of highly relevant literature:

From this positioning, our workshop presenters addressed a range of subjects, from Crystal Abidin’s research about Instagram microcelebrities balancing commercialization and authenticity in their selfies to Fiona Andreallo’s examination of the photographic vernacular illustrated through the PGUF (Pretty Girls, Ugly Faces) meme. Jocelyn Murtell discussed her interviews with young women about their selfies, identifying ‘the cringe’ as a visceral reaction to photos with ‘too much pout’ – aka the duckface backlash. Then Cristina Miguel showcased her research about users’ decisions to share intimate photos through some social media rather than others and Fiona Whitington-Walsh skyped in to share a forthcoming chapter, co-authored with Katie Warfield, about binary discourses of empowerment or victimization that affect girls’ use of social media. I talked about how to identify aspects of social media apps and platforms that shape the way we present ourselves (paper and streamlined slides here). Lastly, Carolina Cambre wrapped up our session with a reflection on the different ways we can understand and critique self-representations.

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js(Not quite a group selfie)

Our workshop participants were phenomenal – getting into the activities, taking pouty selfies and commercial selfies plugging products, and thinking critically about questions, such as how to teach about selfies in the classroom. Thanks to everyone for your engagement, deep thinking, and ideas about how we can consider selfies into the future. If you’re looking to get more connected to selfies research, check out the Selfie Researchers Network and Facebook group!

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