Spontaneous Taking and Posting Selfie: Reclaiming the Lost Trust

Spontaneous Taking and Posting Selfie: Reclaiming the Lost Trust

Ikbal Maulana (Indonesian Institute of Sciences, Indonesia)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 23
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3373-3.ch002
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On social media where people are struggling to attract others' attentions, posting selfies is the most convenient way to communicate their individuality. They do not need anyone's assistance to take their picture, and they can take it anytime and post it immediately on social media. Bodily appearance has always been an influence in how an individual is perceived and treated by her social environment. Fortunately, on social media this appearance has transformed into information, which, therefore, can be manipulated by computers or even smartphones. With the help of digital image processing software fulfilling the beauty standard of any virtual community is no longer a concern. However, this chapter argues that this technology destroys the realism of a photograph, makes its reliability almost like that of a statement, which depends on its human source not on itself. This creates the problem of trust, and many users seek to overcome it by spontaneous taking and posting a casual and inelegant selfie.
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Selfie has become a global phenomenon. Many people are taking selfies not only to record their special moments, but, most of the time, they are taking selfies as part of their daily communications. Taking a selfie is different from other ways of taking photographs, not only because the taker and subject of the portrait have become one, but also it has developed to be a real-time self-presentation, because most selfies are instantly uploaded on social media. Spontaneity of taking and uploading selfies is the most important feature of this activity in the era where digital images are manipulable. Selfies, as will be shown later in this chapter, have become both an expression of individuality and an effort to gain trust. Therefore, selfies play important role in self-presentation in the era of information overload and manipulable information.

Selfies are manifestation of both our individual and social beings, which are not separated from each other. We are unique individuals, and, however, we want our individuality to be accepted by others. As individuals, we need to develop our self-esteem, which nevertheless often requires other people’s confirmation that we deserve to be satisfied or even proud with our self. Most of the time our behaviors and actions reveal both our individuality and sociality, that we are unique individuals and, at the same time, sharing the same particular traits as other members of the community. Our dependence on society does not necessarily lead to the removal of our individuality. “All relationships, then, involve the problem of establishing closeness and distance, to maintain the healthy interdependencies of social life without a person feeling their identity becoming swamped and submerged” (Burkitt, 2008, p. 75). The interdependence between individuals and society is not fixed. The development of knowledge, institutions, and technologies affects the power relationship between individuals and society to the extent to which individuals must comply to the norms of society (Foucault, 1978).

Technology may make individuals less dependent on their community to satisfy their physical needs, however, their emotional needs – such as the needs to be accepted, appreciate, and loved – cannot be fulfilled by none other than their fellow human beings. The development of social media as well as selfie will only strengthen the proof of our dependence on others, even though, on social media, the others have become more impersonal and informational. Social media “has led to an enormous proliferation of relationships” (Gergen, 1991, p. 49) that enable us to have contacts with a great number of people, so great that we do not know most of them in the way we may know friends or colleagues in actual life.

Being social on social media is very different from being social in actual life. In the latter, our body makes us strongly embedded in our society that we cannot instantly appear or disappear from other people or connect and disconnect from them, and we can neither say or do anything without taking responsibility of its consequences. In actual interactions, we are and will always be under the gazes of the members of our social networks, which in turn are pressuring us to be more responsible or more responsible to the norms of our community. Accordingly, fitting into the actual social network, which makes us accepted or regarded as friends, requires a lot of effort and time to develop relationship which is based on trust and honesty. There is a limit to the maximum number of friends that we can have (Dunbar, 1996), over which the increasing number of friends will only lead to the weakening of the social bond between us.

On social media, we can connect with any number of users, unconstrained by time and space, because some of our social acts are taken over by computer software. When we try to make friend with someone, we do not need to be at the same time and place with that person as making friend in actual life. We can send a request to be a friend to someone, then let the technology keep forwarding the request to that person until it is accepted or rejected. Social media, such as Twitter, even allows us to follow any user without asking for permission. The easiness of making contacts, with friends or strangers, using real or fake identity, allows us to make unmanageable number of virtual friends. Therefore, in a large social network, especially when the communication is carried out in textual exchanges, most of us can easily be reduced to be just a tiny package of information, which does not attract anyone’s attention.

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