Traditional Selfie

In Stefanone et al’s paper A social cognitive approach to traditional media content and social media use: Selfie-related behavior as competitive strategy, they take a look at the role of Reality TV in relation to selfie-related behavior through various social media platforms such as Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram. As katechecknita4023 argues in her assessment of this paper, the use of Reality Television in the context of Stefanone’s study as a means to examine current selfie taking habits motivated by media is perhaps no longer the most relevant, but I do also believe it still offer substance.

Although Reality TV still imposes significant influence on today’s culture, it does not hold as much of a place as it once did, as obvious when looking at the statistics in the study showing the percentage of people who actually watch RTV (43%) and those who consume RTV heavily (3%). What may have mislead the researchers is the power that RTV celebrities have over social media, and by extension over self-image, projected image, and selfie behavior. Nowadays we tend no longer to rely on cable but on instant, easy entertainment like Netflix and Youtube, and while these too provide RTV, it remains but a small portion of what the mass population is consistently exposed to.

In this regard, I think it would be interesting to take a look at other forms of TV, not only of the Reality variety, as I believe the desire to replicate character behavior/appearance would be just as strong, if not stronger as these characters are usually more idealized, almost fantastical, with qualities “worth striving for.” The unrealistic, yet romantic portrayal of characters in all types of TV would seem to encourage various forms of social comparison, as discussed by Garcia et al and could potentially lead to more representational findings. katechecknita4023 makes a good point when discussing the even greater relevance mirroring celebrities on social media platforms such as istagram, snapchat and youtube as a form of social comparison would have in looking at selfie behavior. It seems like the real power has shifted from television to social media outlets such as these, and this is where the direct influence would come from when compelled to take/edit/post selfies (in many cases, not all).

On the other hand, studying Reality TV in this context remains interesting to me as it delves further into the roots of celebrity influence and social media usage/image perception. It perhaps gets closer to the origin of how and where our obsession with image and social comparison came from, like tracing back our lineage.


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