In an attempt to understand the relationship between consumption of reality television (RTV) and self-presentation strategies through selfies, Stefanone et al. make an interesting argument about the nature of competition on social media by applying social cognitive theory relating to individuals’ competitive contingencies of self-worth. While I think that the structure of their argument is valid and their findings have very valuable implications, I found the relevance of their choice of media (RTV) questionable within the context of the more modern forms of media consumption. Had they chosen a more prevalent form of media relating to self-presentation, such as YouTube or celebrities’ presence on social media, I feel like the authors could have made a much stronger argument about the modelling of self-presentation and competition relating to the current climate of social media use.
The authors identified that only 43% of participants watched reality TV, and that only 3% identified as being heavy consumers of this type of media. While this statistic is taken from a relatively small sample, it illustrates the general understanding that consumption of traditional media is falling by the wayside. With the ease of accessibility to services such as Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube to name a few, viewers are able to more readily tailor their content consumption in ways they never have before. As a result, traditional television is no longer the primary provider of content and is dwindling in its ability to maintain a consistent viewing base. While it’s interesting to consider the social cognitive theoretical model to examine the most salient aspects of RTV in predicting selfie behaviours, I think it’s also worth mentioning that these newer branches of media maintain, if not exaggerate, these same characteristics. For example, the authors mentioned self-disclosure as being an integral part of RTV in the form of monologues that inspires others to share content on social media. By this logic, I think it’s fair to say that content on YouTube would be far more predictive of selfie sharing, due to the nature of many videos being the creator speaking about themselves. While the choice of RTV in understanding content sharing on social media was fair, I argue that there were other content forms that could have been more effectively examined.
Rather than examining viewership of reality TV shows, considering the stars of the reality shows (and celebrities in general) influence on social media would likely be more telling of the nature of comparison and social media competition. While the Kardashians arguably became a household name through their reality series Keeping Up With The Kardashians, I feel like most would agree with me when I say that this family’s real power of influence now comes from their presence on social media. While the article mentioned the aspect of self-disclosure in monologues on RTV, I think it’s even more interesting to examine how influencers such as the Kardashians use social media to promote this kind of self-centredness in followers through revealing and addressing details of their personal drama. Could it be that with the fall of traditional media, this new brand of self-disclosure is more explanatory in selfie behaviour?
The article states that the competition-based conditions of worth that are integral to RTV mediates its relationship to selfie behaviour. While this logically makes sense, it also supports my argument that social media/selfie behaviour of celebrities in newer media forms is even more relevant in understanding selfie behaviour in the general population. Rampant with aspects of social comparison with likes, views, and comments, the attention that celebrities get and the competition between them and other celebrities on social media is more directly relevant than RTV to the competition that potentially fuels the taking, editing, and posting of selfies in everyday people. As we learned from Garcia et al., social comparison with others is especially salient when the dimension in question is relevant to a person’s sense of self. In the case of selfies, personal appearance and acceptance from others is clearly important to most of us, especially those of us who tend to post a lot of selfies.
To connect what Hanansaid with the article, the use of editing software and filters allows us to only show others what we want them to see, resulting in increased levels of social comparison and competition. In this way, it makes sense that Stefanone et al. would choose to study the social comparison and competition in RTV and how it relates to social media use. However, with the changing patterns of media consumption likely comes a new influence on selfie related behaviour that will hopefully be examined in future studies.