Blog Post 2: Rettberg and Papacharissi Say, I Say

Hi everyone,

Nice job today with our first real discussion on Doran’s article “Identity” — lots of important ideas to think about further, and it was good to see people start to work with the “They Say, I Say” approach, explaining a key claim of Doran’s in your own words and then responding to it with claims of your own. That kind of writing in dialogue will be one of the cornerstones of what we’ll work on over the semester.

So for this next post, I’d like you to work on that approach a little more formally and in a little more depth. Your first step here should be to find a key claim in either Rettberg or Papacharissi’s writing — rather than focusing in on an anecdote or example from their articles, look instead for a larger claim or assertion the author you choose is making, a nice meaty idea of a sentence or two or three. Then set this up within your own writing — introduce it, quote it directly and appropriately, and paraphrase or explain it in your own words, using some of the approaches and templates from They Say, I Say to help structure how you present this material. Once you’ve done that, respond to that claim directly with some claims and ideas of your own. As you do this, make it clear how you’re responding and what you’re adding to the conversation. Rather than just agreeing or disagreeing, or noting that something is interesting or important, say more to show how your position relates to the author’s — are you building on what she says? Complicating it? Offering another way of looking at the issue she raises? Something else? Again, using some of the templates can be helpful in structuring how you’re responding in a way that will be clear to people reading your work.

Reminder: your response should go in the comments section for this post — click the “Leave a Comment” link at the top of the post. It should be at least 250 words, and is due by 11:59pm on Tuesday, September 11th. If you have any questions, let me know via email.

13 thoughts on “Blog Post 2: Rettberg and Papacharissi Say, I Say

  1. Jill Rettberg focuses on the various types of filters in her article, attempting to draw upon how we use these filters to shape ourselves. Filters, as described by Rettberg, are generally known as “the removal of unwanted content or impurities.”21 Filters are fluid and have the ability to change constantly. Rettberg emphasizes throughout the piece, the point that we simply take them for granted. I was especially interested on her view of technological filters. She drew upon the point that technological filters may “constrain our creativity”23 and questioned the original definition of filters, “Perhaps…social media is not simply the kind of filter that removes impurities, but also shapes them…”23 This particular statement coupled with the 2014 ’emotional contagion’ experiment caused me to think deeper into the issue. In today’s digital age there is technology formatted specifically to give you ads and news ‘you may like’. These suggestions and ads are based upon your prior readings, website views, etc. That filtered information, that has proven to illicit different responses as in the ’emotional contagion’ experiment, raises the question of informed citizens. Are people viewing only media that is recommended? Does this surge of recommended information and selective exposure have an impact on the decisions, both socially and politically, individuals make. Also, this notion of predisposed ideas of what should be done as in the baby book example. It poses the question on whether these predispositions were created or simply enhanced with the emergence of technological filters? Connecting our discussion from class I questioned whether technological filters, like those on Snapchat and Instagram, add to pressure of social media to be ‘mainstream’ or if they help people in accepting their identity. Rettberg recognizes that these filters have been a part of everyday life beyond the social media age and we shouldn’t take them for granted or view them in a negative light.

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  2. In her chapter, “Filtered Reality,” Jill Walker Rettbergs discusses three types of filters: technological, cultural and cognitive. Here I will be focusing on cultural filters. In her discussion of the nature and manifestation of cultural filters on page 25, Rettberg states that, “cultural filters change over time and are different in different cultures. We can and often do resist or change cultural filters, but most of the time we simply act according to the logic of the filter without even realizing that that is what we are doing.” Here she discusses the dynamic, malleable nature of cultural filters and mentions that they are not consistent across cultures. Despite the fact that people can defy cultural filters, Rettberg clarifies that individuals often blindly adhere to cultural filters, without awareness of their compliance. In her chapter, Rettberg does not go into depth on how cultural filters can differ around the world, so I hope to expand upon this notion and further support her claims. I personally witnessed evidence of the variability in cultural filters while touring Poland this past summer. I was lucky enough to have several conversations with Polish natives regarding cultural differences between the United States and Poland. From these conversations, I drew the conclusion that many of the cultural filters were directly influenced by the religious and racial distribution of the country. Poland is extremely homogenous compared to the United States, as nearly 90% of citizens identify as Roman Catholic and upwards of 97% identify as Caucasian. The religious homogeneity of Poland is likely the main reason why same-sex marriage is not yet legalized. An additional discrepancy likely attributable to the homogeneity, is that many words in the English language that are considered derogatory towards a certain group or subpopulation, are not considered derogatory in Polish. Since Rettberg does not discuss where cultural filters derive from, I’m curious as to how much of what we can and cannot say or do within our culture is determined by the diversity of the population itself.

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  3. In the excerpt “Filtered Reality” by Jill Walker Rettberg focuses on the topic of filters and how the use of them in today’s world. But, one topic that Rettberg focuses on is based around how when people see positive posts and words online they begin to be positive in their own online life as well. In today’s world, it is easy to dismiss the intention behind big social media companies. Rettberg explains that Facebook in the past filtered users posts only to see positive material which caused that user to post more positive status updates. Rettberg says, “Whether this affected users’ actual emotional state or not, it is clear that the way Facebook filters our newsfeeds affects the way we express ourselves on Facebook. (24)”. On the one hand, I understand entirely what Rettberg is attempting to explain concerning this topic, but I also believe that people are not solely influenced by social media when it comes to posting or involving yourself online. Rettberg clearly states that although it may cause people to display themselves more positively, we don’t know as of right now if it is positively affecting the person’s happiness. This has the danger of making people hide their true feelings and emotions. This age of social media makes people more vulnerable and affected by what other people post so even though the person may not be happy they still may want to give off the illusion that they are because of the way bright and joyful content is pushed out on all social media platforms. Overall, Rettberg shows a clear understanding of the effect of people on people while on social media but chooses not to recognize the free will of people and the yearning for acceptance.

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  4. In “Filtered Reality,” Jill Walker Rettbergs discusses three different ways in which people filter themselves, or see themselves through technology. Upon reading this chapter, I found myself agreeing with many of the points being made as Rettberg discusses technological, cultural and cognitive filtering. However, I found myself wondering where it is we draw the line at what we consider an act of filtering. Aren’t people constantly filtering themselves whenever they make a decision of any sort? Aren’t we filtering ourselves from the moment we wake up? Rettberg touches on this point at the end of the chapter by writing “we are part of cultures that also have their set of filters: rituals, customs, terminologies, assumptions, and prejudices” (32). Virtual expression is inherently filtered because people are inherently filtered. For some reason I felt uncomfortable with this idea until I read this chapter. I think that my previous thought on the ‘instagram filter’ as we know it, was mostly negative because It seemed like it was somehow a dishonest representation. However, I now am realizing that there is no piece of media that exists without filter. In fact, there is no art that exists without filter. Each decision, that a person must make, conscious or unconscious is filtering.

    This makes me wonder if there are exceptions to this. Are there certain human characteristics or instincts that are not able to be filtered. Digitally? probably not.

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  5. In “Filtered Reality,” Jill Walker Rettberg illustrates the idea of how technological filters control how we perceive the world and act within our surroundings. As she mentions, “It is clear that the way Facebook filters our newsfeed affects the way we express ourselves on Facebook. Facebook filters our newsfeed, and it also filters our behavior” (24). Psychologically, it is true that we are most likely to act within our social norms and respond to the human perception. This means that the more positive the surroundings are, the more likely people are going to respond positively, and vice versa. Even though the author focuses on how environments can filter our thinking and how we perceive the world, I believe that there are other forms of technological filters that manipulates our actions, such as advertisements. Advertisements on social media influence and reach millions of people through collecting a series of information about them. For example, Facebook is one of many who targets a specific type of audience based on likes, interests, comments, gender and friends. This is the most successful strategy of filtering for the advertisements to reach the audience it is targeting. When the data collected is registered into the system, for instance, women will typically see advertisements, in the margin of their Facebook page, about beauty, fashion, and shopping centers. With millions of advertisements Facebook represents, women are more likely to visit the advertisements that look most appealing to them. Whether it is the colors of the advertisement, its brightness, or pictures of celebrities or brand names. This system will get more effective and precise as users are more active on their social media profiles. In conclusion, social media filters our behaviors not only through creating productive environments to reach specific goals, but through engaging advertisements.

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  6. Based on the two readings, Papacharissi’s piece on comparing Twitter, one of the biggest social platforms with the act of performance created an interesting and new perspective of how the two are interchangeable. Throughout the essay, Papacharissi explains that one needs to perform properly in order to use twitter correctly. For instance, it is explained that this “performance” can enable individuals on twitter to change their profile to be either private or public, as well as having the choice to either be open or private with what they say in their tweets or posts. While this is one of the more easier performances one can perform, others can lead to more dangerous paths, such as risking one to lost their self-identity. Papacharissi describes “individuals become increasingly self-reflective and self-aware. Understanding one’s multiple potentials requires constant, intense self-reflection.” By this, the author is explicitly explaining the dangers the degree and risk one is willing to take if performance becomes too far. This was very interesting because it has become common today to dismiss the extent of how powerful a social media platform can change oneself. Papacharissi states how “several researchers characterize twitter as a peripheral awareness system that enables social grooming”. I think that it is important that Papacharissi has brought this issue to be discussed because we won’t realize how negatively and greatly it can impact one’s life and eventually taking over one’s ability to make their own decision. It was important that Papacharissi argues how one is limited to create their own self due to either only having the ability to express themselves in less than 140 characters or constantly trying to be part of the social norm.

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  7. In her book Seeing Ourselves Through technology: How We Use Selfies, Blogs and Wearable Devices to See and Shape Ourselves, Jill Rettberg deconstructs and explores how different facets of filtered reality constantly affect modern life. In particular, Rettberg looks at how photo filters yield a disconnect between us and the part of our lives that we chose to filter, thus defamiliarizing us with our own selves. She claims that “one reason the filter fascinates us is that it gives the image that strangeness that defamiliarizes our lives. The filter makes it clear that the image is not entirely ours. The filtered image shows us ourselves, or our surroundings, with a machine’s vision. As Bianca Bosker (2014) writes about the wearable lifelogging camera the Narrative Clip, it ‘lets me see my life through someone else’s eyes–or in this case, the unfocused and impartial eye of a machine” (26). To synthesize, Rettberg is arguing that we are drawn to the way in which photo filters and digital representations of life allow us to see versions of ourselves that exist in intangible and borderline fantastical realities. None of our experiences are processed objectively; they affect us based on our own previous opinions and perceptions. Any digital portrayal of ourselves or our lives is inherently foreign, or “strange”, in that is was created partly by a machine rather than human perception. The digital portrayal is thus, as Rettberg points out, “impartial”, or devoid of natural human bias. Thus, created partly by us and partly by technology, digital representations are unique in that they present an extension of our identity that is both part of and disconnected from ourselves.

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  8. Papacharissi’s writing implies that one’s digital identity is a continued performance. Before this excerpt begins, there is a quote: “Performing is a public dreaming.” This was said by Richard Schechner and is brought up again later in Papacharissis writing. On Twitter, it is possible to represent yourself in any way. Supporting a certain topic, living a certain life, you can portray yourself as whatever you can imagine. This is a performance. The user must keep this up whenever online. In a way, this is like dreaming. When logged in, a certain mental state is entered. When a user logs out however, are they waking up? Is coming back to the real world and stopping their performance an awakening? If performing is like dreaming, and by using Twitter and other social medias people are performing, is this the biggest draw to social media? People have been performing forever. Platforms for performers have always existed. From plays to concerts to sports events, the ability to go out and perform has always attracted people. But now this ability lies in almost everyones pocket. With a few taps of the thumb, one is able to step onto a stage the same way a pianist or a ballet dancer does. The audience and exposure is larger than ever as well, allowing social media performers to feel larger than life. But this is all a dream. The same way stepping out onto the soccer field is a dream. And when the performance is over, the performers are forced to wake up.

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  9. Most people innately look for ways to view themselves though other people’s eyes. Jill Walker Rettberg in the, Filtered Reality, chapter establishes the claim that people use filters in order, “to remove unwanted content” (21). This “unwanted content”, in the eyes of the average selfie photographer or social media poster, can be characterized as simply little imperfections or as much as complete structural modification. These changes not only alter the effect of the image on the viewer, through social media, but also the effect of the image on the editor. When Bianca Bosker writes, “let me see my life through someone else’s eyes” (26), and Rettberg states, “seeing ourselves through a filter allows us to see ourselves anew” (26), they both demonstrate a person’s need to use filters in order to assure oneself of their image in society. People want to know how other people view them in day to day interactions. This can give them the opportunity to change or improve that view. Using filters allows people to access a view of themselves that they don’t see every day while also momentarily altering themselves to the world through social media.
    The unfortunate fact that social media is the basis for many people’s self-esteem is troubling. Rettberg argues that people use filters in order to look at themselves from someone else’s point of view, and I agree because I see it every single day. I watch people take thousands of photos at events, go through each photo, and then filter them in order to portray the way they looked or wanted to look in their minds eye. I watch people hand their phone off and have friends take candid photos of them throughout the day in order to see what they look like from different perspectives. I watch people get angry or upset that their photos won’t look the way they imagine they should no matter how hard they filter. My point is this: people need to take a hard look on how they use filters because eventually more and more people are not going to be able to view themselves accurately.
    Can mental health problems arise due to constant access to social media? Yes. I heard in the news on various occasions that body dysmorphia, eating disorders and other mental health problems are a result of various influences including constant access to social media. I am not saying that social media is the sole cause of an increase in mental health, but rather that it plays a large enough role that people are starting to take note. This distinction is important because people begin to care the more and more as problems effect their own lives. The more and more people notice the imperfections of social media, the more and more people will do something about it. I am not saying that eventually social media will shut down or that the internet will stop portraying people in a certain way, but I am saying that once people start to notice, people will hopefully stop putting all their trust and faith into the images they see. Maybe people will begin to trust in themselves and what they see in the world rather than the altered images on their devices.

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  10. In recent discussions of the modern technological era, a recent issue has been whether the skin tone bias has led to more people, predominantly those of color, to take selfies because the photographs often taken by others doesn’t depict the POC in a way that he or she deems well. In Jill Walker Rettberg 2nd section of her blog “Seeing Ourselves Through Technology” on page 29, she states that “Feeling Misrepresented by the camera is one common reason for beginning to take selfies instead of being the subject of other people’s photographs. Photographer McFadden (2014) describes how one of her driving motivations to begin taking self-portraits and to become a professional photographer was her horror at seeing photographs of herself”. From this perspective, Rettberg is attempting to explain how the media portrayal of beauty as predominately fairer skinned individuals has affected those outside the commonly depicted skin tones. She argues that these images, which are caused by the technological and cultural filters which are attached to all forms of media, has made it hard for individuals,who are not represented as beautiful by societal tonal standards to view pretty themselves as pretty because the filters and cameras of the 21st century were not created to highlight those of darker complexion, but instead those of lighter complexions. On one hand, some argue that an individual should not base their beauty or self-worth upon how they are portrayed in a picture. On the other hand, some argue that as a member of the technological era, that it is impossible to not use images, especially those posted to social media, to determine whether one is attractive because, a “like” or “thumbs up”, on social media is equivalent to the digital world validating your post. So, if an individual posts a picture of themselves and they receive multiple “likes” on their post, it essentially means that people are validating their beauty. In sum, then, the issue is whether social and technological filters have the power to control an individuals view of themselves physically.
    My own view is that social and technological filters do have the power to control and individuals view of themselves, especially in a physical sense. Though I do concede that, one should not base their self-worth or beauty on a photograph, I still maintain that these aforementioned filters have the power to determine how we view ourselves because the media we view everyday programs us to determine what is good versus what is bad. From the first day we are exposed to popular media we are taught what to think and how to act. An example of this can be found on page 22 of Rettberg’s blog where she states, “…cultural filters…teach us, for instance, to mimic photo model in fashion magazines or Instagram selfie stars when we photograph ourselves.” Rettberg’s, quote embodies what people do, and that is trying to look like celebrities on and off social media platforms. The significance of this is that if social and technological filters did not have the power to control an individual’s view of themselves, individuals, social media users, would not try to portray themselves like the celebrities that social and technological filters present to them. This issue is important because it raises many questions about what these filters are doing to us on an external and internal level, such as, if these filters affect how try to present t ourselves externally, what effects do filters have on us internally from a conscience and subconscious perspective? Also, this issue creates a discussion about the media’s cultural and social influences on ourselves and how significant some of its influences truly are.

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  11. The quote I used is from Jill Rettberg and she states that “feeling misrepresented by the camera is one common reason for beginning to take selfies instead of being the subject of other people’s photographs… I couldn’t help but feel that what that photographer saw was so wildly different from how I saw myself.” This portion here brings us to the bigger picture of the ideas of filters. Here Jill was speaking about a specific filter which is the cognitive one: the brain. She compares this to the photographic filters because they both change how we perceive the world and what’s around us. Here she continues to provide an anecdote to explain a broader idea of our filtered sense of what we see. However, this idea extends to just more than seeing yourself differently. Jill says that taking selfies is a way to avoid cultural and technological filters that they don’t like or don’t feel real to them. I believe its more complicated than that. selfies give you the control of what you see and what others can see. It’s control that isn’t in your possession when others capture a photo of you. Humans have this desire to be in control of everything and especially things they know they can’t control it. This desire to be all powerful leads to dissatisfaction in everything. Humans are often overly judgemental of themselves more than they are of others. I don’t blame technology, I blame human nature in conjunction with the influence of photographic filters and society. Even if it was just a mirror she was capturing herself in she wouldn’t believe it could capture every aspect of her accurately and simply put, its because they can’t. society has brainwashed some people to think only with a filter can they look beautiful which is far from the truth.

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  12. The use of filters in digital platforms remains increasingly popular among millennials who have made these dynamic and malleable overlays indispensable when posting any kind of visual content. Filters can aid to compliment or entirely transform a picture into any message, notion or representation one aims to communicate. In the chapter, Filtered Reality from Seeing Ourselves Through Technology, Jill Rettberg uses these as analytical tools to explore and comprehend the social and cultural trends associated with filters both in its literal and metaphorical sense. In this piece, Rettberg maintains that “The skin tone bias of photography is a technological filter that distorts photographic representation of many people, but it isn’t just about technology. The common stereotypical drawings of Africans in the mid-twentieth century show that the visual distortion was not just embedded into camera technology, it was also a strong cultural filter” (29). Filters are not solely overlays that may enhance or visually demark an image. They can also serve as avenues for projection of specific ideas, positions, or perceptions. For decades, the general well-accepted standard of beauty maintained a Euro-centric focus idolizing white-pale skin, loose hair texture, anglicized eye color, and slimmer body figures. Dark skin tones, kinkier hair textures and ‘pronounced’ facial features have always lacked a positive outlook, and still continue to be considered undesirable. Thus, when conveying the idea of filters as platforms for transmission of ideology, these can also be used to perpetuate such societal principles and expectations. In other words, because cultural filters are mostly informed by societal attitudes, these can also lead to the misrepresentation and stereotypical portrayal of certain groups. Moreover, this dynamic also applies to the use of technological filters namely, those used in social media platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat. Many of the live motion filters on the Snapchat app have a propensity to give the appearance of paler complexion, thinner nose, and lighter eye color. From my observance, these tend to be the most popularly used filters in the app, even among people of color. As platforms continue to purposely offer limited sets of filters that replicate these biased references and imagery, people of color will continue to be represented distortedly and in a degrading manner as such perceptions endure validated in the digital sphere. It is imperative that stakeholders in the technological scope claim responsibility with creating algorithms and filters that avert biased depictions and enable multi-faceted expression so that the use of filters allow more socially responsible outcomes.

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  13. Since the digital age, technology has progressed further than anyone could have anticipated. The slimness and speed of our smart devices is unprecedented. In Rettberg’s work Filtered Reality, he speaks on many aspects of what filters do for our digital experience as well as the effect they have on our realities. A specific piece of his writing focuses on the defamiliarization filters do to pictures. Rettberg does not just talk about the altering of the appearance in the photo but states “Instagram -style filters may make our selfies and photos of our everyday life seem unfamiliar, but the filter itself is repeated so often that the defamiliarization effect wears off and becomes clique”. The presence of filters used to be able to give people a twist on the pictures they capture, with everyday lives becoming pieces of abstract art for the first time. While Rettberg acknowledges this phenomenon and how it becomes so normal that these filters are expected, he also acknowledges why they are still so popular. The filters give the person an ability to view themselves in a new and fresh light. As an avid social media user, this has definitely been witnessed because raw photos are almost impossible to find. The confidence level someone needs to have to post a photo without some sort of altercation would have to be extremely high and they would need to process a strong digital and personal identity. However, this phenomenon arises multiple questions for the years to come. Will filters continue to be at the heart of our digital use? Will defamiliarization be so extreme that it begins to alter our perception of reality all together? Has this already started? Only time will answer these questions, and with Rettberg’s definition it seems like filters are here to stay.

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