Social Media: How Photography Plays a Role in Everyday Social Dynamics

Photography has become a significant contributor to communication among the youth in recent years. The rise of social media platforms has made photography an everyday occurrence. The advancements of technology has made photography an daily hobby for anyone who owns a cell phone or camera. Millions of photos are upload to Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat daily. All these medium of social media are fairly similar to one another with the idea of sharing photos to family and friends. Photography has multiple purposes with both positive and negative implications; it is a form of visual communication that defines who we think we are, who others think we are and stirs up the question of where has privacy gone.

Social Media has made it possible for people share what people are doing, who are they with, and where they are through the use of photography. There are many benefits and disadvantages to the new era of photography and digital communication. Before going into more detail about this, I must acknowledge as society the technological advancements we have made in the recent decade. Not to long ago, cell phones were very basic machines that only had one major function which was to call one another. In recent years, we have developed a new whole product. These products are called smartphones and they can do essentially anything one desires. Smartphones have taken over communication and also human interaction. I mention this because one of the major contributors to the youth being attached to digital device are because of applications such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.

All of these applications rely on the use of photography to stay in touch. Photography has been effected and altered by these applications. New forms of photography are being created based off how we communicate with one another. These new forms wouldn’t be considered fundamental photography but has certainly been thriving in the popular culture. It all began with the Myspace mirror pic. The Myspace mirror pic is the original selfie. The mirror pic allowed people to portray themselves in unique and interesting way. Some people chose to portray themselves better than other. No matter what pose the user chose, the photos were published to there friends to let them interrupt for themselves. This started a whole new physiological trend of self obsession and personal identity within young people. Websites with social profiles have allowed people to create dual identities. These social profiles require people to post photos, add friends, and follow pages frequently to maintain status and appearance so they don’t become irrelevant to the digital world. Since nobody wants to be irrelevant, people constantly post photos of whatever they are involved with in life to update friends and followers.

This constant obsession of maintaing self-image via social media platforms is not necessary an awful thing. I have highlighted some negative aspects to these apps but there are positives. Being active on social media apps allows family and friends to know what exactly you are up to. People may not be able to see one another in person, but photographs allow people to see how there friends are doing. This is quite an interesting concept because from my personal experience, I feel up to date with some of my old friends that I haven’t seen in months or even years. For example, I have friends from middle school who I haven’t seen since in several years but I could honestly give a brief description about there life now for a few of former classmates. This sounds strange and creepy but Facebook notifies and keeps me up to date with my acquaintances. Facebook will provide photos for me to look where I can judge and determine how my former friends are doing via the internet. This isn’t my preferred way to catch up, I would much rather meet them in person and have a lunch or grab a few drinks with them. Unfortunately, being able to do this quite unrealistic so the use of photographs allow me to see my friends accomplishments and there well being.

There is an interesting aspect to these social media apps about how we portray ourselves and how we portray others. These applications strictly rely on the user to create there self-image. The user has the ultimate control for these applications depending on how they chose to post. Everybody has there own approach and strategy when part taking in these mediums. Some people embrace the opportunity to share every photo they have ever taken with everyone while others are reserved and tend to watch others promote themselves. No matter what strategy you take, people are judging your actions. This is interesting because studies have shown that people who over post on their profiles tend to discourage their friends. I found this partially true because everybody has that one friend that is very self-obsessed and that constantly posts selfies with a countless unnecessary hashtags. There is nothing worse than this because these kind of people are very desperate for attention. On the topic of hashtags, I believe this is a excellent idea to be able to promote photos with certain categories and themes but unfortunately it has been abused by the off-topic posts by people who want more followers and likes. This is tragic because the original intention was pure and beautiful. A few year ago you could browse through hashtags that were actually related to the topic and find some truly amazing photographs. Now, the most popular photos on Instagram is a guy taking a selfie with his shirt off. Why does society promote these kinds of photos rather than a once in a lifetime epic photography shot.

The most popular type of photo that exists in our society is the selfie. Selfie’s can be pleasant and enjoyable too look at but only to an certain extent. Selfie’s are a way for us to reflected upon ourselves and the world around us. The ability to have one to portray oneself is a absolutely new concept for people to grasp. There are people who do abuse the selfie and it can be painful to watch these people. Recently, physiologists and scientists related frequent selfie takers to the diagnose of narcissism. Narcissism can be defined as inordinate fascination with oneself or excessive self-love. The term originated from greek mythology from the idea of who fell in love with his own image reflected in a pool of water. This reference plays along perfectly to the perception of the selfie. When it comes down to it, taking selfie’s means for a chance for the photographer to look at oneself and admire or discourage his or her appearance. Scientists have a made a connection to selfies and narcissism because they believe that people are suffering from the idea of self perfection. I read an article about this topic and the article included a story about a man who would take 200 selfies a day. The reason he took this many selfies was due to fact he was trying too convey that perfect image to himself and friends. The depressing reality is that people are becoming addicted to themselves wasting precious time. These people try to convey themselves without any flaws but that is nearly impossible to do. These people are becoming beyond self-centered to oneself and criticize themselves rather than admiring there actually beauty. Going back to the greek meaning of narcissism and how it relates to photography and to the selfie fits perfectly. The water can represent as the front camera on iPhones and other smartphone devices. People constantly stare at the screen and become self-fascinated at what they are looking at. Whenever someone takes a selfie, they stare at themselves and to try capture the right moment and face. People begin to fall in love with the unnatural “perfect” photo face and become obsessed with themselves.

An ongoing dilemma that has been present ever since the creation of Facebook and other social media accounts is how these accounts can affect the careers young adults. Due to the fact that Facebook is a public website, job employers have been going outside of the box to truly find out what there candidates are actually like. Employers will typically browse through these profiles and try to find any suspect material or behavior that could cause potential harm to their company’s reputation. Many young adults have been having a harsh reality check due to the fact that there are inappropriate photographs of themselves online. Companies do not want to hire people with reckless/immature photos online because it’s considered a liability. However, I believe young adults should not have to suffer from unemployed because there were a few photos of them that are not in a professional or formal manner. Why? Every generation has experienced a time where they are starting to become grown ups without the full responsibilities of being an actual adult. What do I mean by this; we all had a time in lives where we could go out and party without worrying about to many obligations. The difference between my generation and previous generations is the fact that our generation has the ability to document and publish the activities we engage in. Camera’s has become modern day culture and millions photos are taken daily. Camera’s allow us to capture one another living in the moment.

Whether we are celebrating, traveling, or just socializing; we have the chance to document everyday events. My generation has the opportunity to share what we do via social media applications for everyone to see. Older generations did not have chance to share photographs through the internet. There was only film and print documentation. These previous generations created physical scrapbooks with there memories that could only be shared with a limited number of people. This is more intimate compared to my generation where we basically publicize our photographs to the entire world wide web. The internet allows people from my generation to take and upload an abundance of photos with unlimited amount of space.

Overall, we all know the great power that photography posses. Photography has the ability to freeze time allow people to reminisce on fond memories. Photography has changed over the years with the transition from film to digital but has stayed true to its roots. Photography will continue to change and evolve. Within the past year, two major social media applications made a significant change to there terms and agreements. Facebook and Instagram have made countless users sign their rights away for there photography without even knowing. These two companies stated in their new terms and agreements that by posting material to their page, they take over the copyright of the photographs. This may not seem like a big deal to many young participants of social media but it is. Facebook and Instagram now hold the rights to the photos that you took and published. These photographs may have no value now, but in the future could be worth a large amount of money. Photographs have the potential to rise in value as time goes on depending the context of the photo. There is always the possibility of one of your friends become famous or suffers a tragic death and paparazzi or news publications want to the purchase the photographs of the beloved friend. Facebook and Instagram own the rights so they would be the ones selling the photograph of your friend that you took. These two social media applications should not be allowed to take ownership of material that there users have published. Facebook and Instagram could potentially harm a career by selling photos of a important public figure when he was younger. Facebook has the opportunity to make a lot of money by selling photos that could be turned into propaganda. These social media platforms are ever-changing photography and it will be interesting where the direction of photography is heading.

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