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Understanding Social Media

Extensions of Their Users


Robert K. Logan and Mira Rawady

The purpose of this book is to understand the nature of social media and the impact they are having on almost all aspects of modern-day existence from family life and social interactions to education and commerce. Just as fish are unaware of the water they swim in and we humans are unaware of the air that we breathe so it is that the users of social media are unaware of the effects of these media and take their existence as a natural part of their environment. The authors make use of Marshall McLuhan’s media ecology approach to understanding media in order to reveal the effects of social media on their users, how they are changing the nature of our social interactions and how we through our interaction with social media have become actual extensions of our social media, the reverse of McLuhan’s notion that media are extensions of mankind.

The authors analyze the major social media apps including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Reddit, Tinder, YouTube, TikTok, Twitter and blogs as well as examining the Splinternet and the social media scene in Russia, China, North Korea, Vietnam and the Islamic world. Understanding Social Media studies the impacts of social media monopolies, the nature of advertising and branding in social media apps and the social media front in cyberwarfare and concludes with an analysis of the social media counter revolution waged by players who actually helped to create social media.

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Chapter Eight: Instagram


Enhances: sharing photos and videos; vanity; self-esteem; visual representation; taking photos and creating videos; online social interactions; flirting;

Obsolesces: text; physical photographs;

Retrieves: Narcissus; past experiences and adventures; the photo album;

Reverses or flips into: imagery versus substance; opportunity for notoriety; beauty competition; envy.

Since 2010, Instagram has rapidly become an extremely influential social medium, altering the lives, identities, and self-perceptions of its many users. Instagram is a visual-based app on which users share photos and videos that represent their persona in digital form and allow them to engage with followers and other users through likes, comments, shares, and posts. Similar to other social media, the use of Instagram plays a big part in the way its users perceive the world and themselves.

Browsing through Instagram is a habit that a large majority of individuals participate in on a regular basis. When engaging in this easy, fast-paced browsing ←77 | 78→process, multiple things are occurring that the users are either unconscious of or choose to ignore. While looking at other people’s posts and choosing whether to like, comment, or abstain, users are constantly absorbing information about how others have been living their lives, how they look, what their style is, and what they want to share with others as a representation of themselves.

Whether directly aware of it or not, Instagram users are constantly collecting information on others and their identities which they eventually use to construct their...

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