Ethnographic research of people and their surrounding media is a topic which we discuss daily without realising we do. Analysing, commenting, scrolling and liking all fall under the umbrella term of ethnographic research in our current online environment, and plays a significant role in how we shape our perceptions of self-identity and how others shape their own identity.
With the collaborative efforts of Caitlin Ross and I, we are aiming to identify when social media became such a significant part of our lives, and whether this has had an impact on how adolescents and young adults perceive themselves and the relationships they have. In addition to this, we will be looking at the glamorised culture surrounding adolescent/young adult lives, and whether social media has directly affected those who view these images on a day-to-day basis.
Since social media has been introduced into our society, it has essentially become a centrepiece for the persona’s we create in real life and on social media. Whether we choose for this to have an effect on our everyday life or not, is up to us. These social and public spheres can be damaging and uplifting, detrimental and inspiring. It is essentially how we choose to interact and react to this media which determines our view of our surrounding society, including social media.
We feel as though the impact social media has on our perception of ourselves and both our immediate and imagined environments (say the environment of someone we obsess over or look up to) is a concept we feel could be further explored and shared through recounts and personal stories of those who have acknowledged that social media has had a direct impact on the way they view their immediate society.
However, our online environments, especially as digital ethnographers, are ever changing. As stated in week five’s readings concerning digital ethnography, “digital ethnographers will sometimes find that the social worlds they are researching will experience dramatic changes over a short period of time. In some cases, they may even witness the birth of a new social world whilst still in the field.” (Postill, 2018)
In regards to this, we acknowledge that the online environment with which we are investigating may be biased, specifically when conducting primary research such as survey’s, as people have the ability to answer falsely. This can be directly connected to week six’s readings, in particular, the article titled “Ethnographic Approaches to the Internet and Computer-Mediated Communication.” It argues that interviews, or surveys of the like, which are carried out in online environments rather than face-to-face, are not “necessarily less valid (it might, conversely, be more thoughtful and denser information).” (Garcia et al., 2009)
Henceforth, it is important for us to be able to interpret the correct meanings from the answers we receive so as to not “misrepresent the meanings behind the text, and/or use a synchronous mode of communication for the interview to be able to ask interviewees for clarification.” (Garcia et al., 2009)
With this in mind, part two will discuss the primary research methods we are planning on utilising to both understand and carry out a succinct project which explores social media, self-perception, and the glamorised environment adolescents and young adults have found themselves growing up in. It will also discuss what media forms we may be able to use to present our findings.
As discussed at length above, the idea Caitlin and I have decided to conduct our ethnographic research on will be when social media became such a giant part of society, as well as how this may affect ones self-perception, and whether it cause caused the glamourisation of adolescent/young adult life.
We both feel as though this topic is very timely and relevant to our current living situations, as well as our own interaction with social media. It is also something with which our peers interact differently, which we thought was an interesting talking point.
For the research side of this task, we have decided to utilise both primary and secondary research methods.
Secondary research will be conducted first. This will allow us to understand the online environment we are working within, and any ethical considerations we need to acknowledge in terms of conversation trigger points. It will also allow us to gather a brief understanding as to when exactly social media became such a big part of our society, and whether the growing numbers have had an impact on how we interact with our physical and digital environments.
To complement our findings, we have also decided to apply primary research to this project in order to gain a personalised understanding of interactions with social media from anonymous social media users. This will allow us to view others perspectives of the online world, and whether they remain harmonious with the secondary research we gather in our initial research in regards to the glamourised and aesthetic life of adolescents and young adults on social media.
Finally, we are hoping to present our findings in video format. This will include aesthetically pleasing shots we take ourselves, and will also include our own voiceovers of some of the results we gather. This will then be shared on social media platforms (almost ironic) such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, in order to spread awareness and bring attention to our findings, whether they be good or not. We are both looking forward to completing this task, and are excited to explore the results we gather during our ethnographic research.
Garcia, A., Standlee, A., Bechkoff, J. and Yan Cui (2009). Ethnographic Approaches to the Internet and Computer-Mediated Communication. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 38(1), pp.52-84.
Postill, J. (2018). 13. Six ways of doing digital ethnography. [online] media/anthropology. Available at: https://johnpostill.com/2015/01/16/13-six-ways-of-researching-new-social-worlds/ [Accessed 27 Sep. 2018].