Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman: A Critical Case Study on Social Media, Deception, and Lil Miquela

Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman: A Critical Case Study on Social Media, Deception, and Lil Miquela

Raymond Blanton (University of the Incarnate Word, USA) and Darlene Carbajal (University of the Incarnate Word, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8535-0.ch006

Abstract

This chapter takes an interdisciplinary approach to the study of deception from the critical perspectives of rhetoric, communication, and media studies. The primary objective is to interrogate the interrelationship of communication, identity, and technology relevant to social media in order to confront issues related to online deception. To that end, this case study is centrally focused on social media sensation Miquela Sosa, also known as Lil Miquela, and the implications of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies and social media influencers to contribute to a more robust critical consciousness regarding misinformation online.
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The Story Of Us: Communication, Identity, And Technology

In situating the significance and importance of this study, the authors rely on the theoretical foundations of rhetoric, communication, and media. Altogether, these disciplines, most especially in our present moment, confront a vast array of human communication issues and challenges, namely, misinformation and online deception on social media. Given that technology has become one of the preeminent ways through which we communicate in order to constitute our sense of identity and secure our physiological and emotional needs, the authors focus on themes of belonging. For instance, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs has belonging centered in the pyramid between our basic physiological and safety needs and the higher needs of esteem and self-actualization. In this sense, belonging is foundational to our sense of self and community. Yet our times are indicative of increased separation, as though it is coming apart at the seams (Ross, 2018, p. 1). Across this chasm, social media has given rise to new ways of finding and manufacturing belonging. Howard J. Ross, in Our Sense of Belonging: How Our Need to Connect Is Tearing Us Apart (2018), has argued, “things need to get real before they can get better” (p. 175). Indeed, the authors argue an interrogation of Miquela and trends in AI technology help us get both real and better, promoting more critically conscious awareness of misinformation issues and stimulating awareness of human needs for personal connection, vulnerability, and consciousness.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Critical Consciousness: The ability to critically perceive the themes of a place and time and intervene actively in reality; an especially flexible, critical spirit.

Technology: The application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes.

Empathy: The ability to understand and share the feelings of others.

Social Media Influencer: People who are paid to promote brands and products.

Artificial Intelligence: The theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence and agency.

Deception: The act of intentionally, knowingly, and/or purposely misleading another person.

Representative Anecdote: Something sufficiently demarcated in character to make analysis possible, yet sufficiently complex in character to prevent the use of too few terms in one’s description.

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