DECONSTRUCTING SOCIAL MEDIA

 
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Ideology & Social Media

Web 2.0-based software services are commonly associated with democracy and creativity as they provide not only access to information, but enable users, among others, to take part in policy-making discussions, elections or in the development of new online tools. Despite their wide-spread status as creative and democratic media, software services result in a gradual equalisation and conditioning of user-generated content. When creating traditional texts, authors habitually apply individual knowledge of text types, i.e. personal letters, diary entries, shopping lists, etc. Thereby, they favour certain prototypical formal and functional qualities, but have great freedom to give their texts a personal/individual touch, i.e. through choices concerning a text's length, its content and its overall layout. When generating texts within Web 2.0 environments, a user's individual decisions concerning the arrangement, the fonts and the length of a text are largely pre-set by the individual templates of the service. In more elaborate software services, we even come across fixed textual contents that users may animate when operating the platform.

An application of Eagleton's concept of idelogy to current Social Software environments hihglited the technological bias of Web 2.0 generated texts.

    /IDEOLOGY AS IDENTITY THINKING/

    STUDENT VOICES
    » In Social Media Identity is to a certain degree constructed, but also pre-given.People tend to share news articles not only because they are interested in the subject, but moreover because they want others to see what kind of identity is constructed thereby.
    » 'Perfect identities' on Pinterest are taken up by other users as a role-model and can finally result in an ideology of how the ideal young woman is supposed to be.
    » There have even been voices claiming that social media gave rise to the 'generation me' , for whom the individual and the self play the most important role.
     

    /IDEOLOGY AS THE CONFUSION OF LINGUISTIC AND PHENOMENAL REALITY/

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    STUDENT VOICES
    » A systematic set of pre-given lexical chains that interrelate with the offline- phenomenon friendship: 'friends', 'friend request', 'top friends', 'people you know from your hometown'.
    » Software-enforced frequent updates of personal information promote 'familiarity', 'affect' and 'solidarity' among members
     

    /IDEOLOGY AS IDEAS WHICH HELP TO LEGITIMATE A DOMINANT POLITICAL POWER/

    STUDENT VOICES
    » the web is becoming increasingly monopolised by corporations, such as Google and Facebook. They have their own commercial interests rather than advancing democracy, even though they might present themselves as advocates of certain movements
    » The Facebook gender setting allows only for two gender options (male and female), entirely neglecting the existence of transgender. This 'choice of Facebook (officials)' accurately mirrors society's awareness of and stance towards the transgender community, thus showing that it is in fact only values and interest of dominant social groups that are considered, since they, in turn, legitimate the groups' existence, justify their position of power and assure their continuance