06 SES 10 A, Connecting, Relating & Preventing
The fleeting growth of social networks has pushed new forms of social interaction, mediated by visibility and privacy, which order the visual as the fundamental stimulus in late modernity. This new media scenery has fragmented the borders that traditionally separated online and offline, public and private, as well as media from personal life (Papathanassopoulos, 2015; Walsh and Baker, 2017). In this context, so called the economy of visibility which articulates socio-cultural and individual practices, shaping a techno-economic context oriented to the accumulation of interactions that appropriates the discourses and commodifies them according to the neoliberal current that floods social networks (Banet, 2018). In this scene, the principle of popularity takes centre stage, understood as the quantification of contacts, 'likes' and visits, which ultimately determine the social value of subjects on digital platforms (Van Dijck, 2013). Thus, these environments have been colonized by the perpetual dominance of visibility and popularity, which have contributed to blurring the boundaries that traditionally separated the public-private dimensions. The private sphere deserves special attention, since its displayed through the visual on social networks is currently configured as a currency of change to achieve visibility (Martin and Vestrif, 2017; Papathanassopoulos, 2015). Under these requirements, teenagers coexist in social networks, transferring their privacy to the public sphere, and thus building a 'visible subjectivity' that they modulate and orient to the reactions of the audience― comments, 'likes', visualizations―that are shaped as mechanisms of validation and social acceptance based on the hegemonic discourse of the moment (Del Prete and Redon, 2020; Lalonde, 2019; Sibilia, 2008). These digital narratives, which teenagers make in their media profiles, reflect the best version of themselves and their lives, since, as Goffman (1971) argued, self-presentation is an action in which people expose different aspects of themselves in order to influence an audience. To do this, this collective uses different strategies ― selfie, performance, etc.― with the purpose of displaying their lives on social networks, thus achieving visibility and popularity (Franke, 2019; Sibilia 2008). This adolescent behavior that predominates in the social networks is the result of the dominance of visibility and spectacle in contemporary society, which exerts pressure on the bodies and the subjectivities so that they unfold according to these norms and precepts (Sibilia, 2008). Foucault’s ideas (1990) clarify this question; his concept of governmentality sheds light on how subjects are subordinated to the threads of visibility by processes of subjectivation framed in government devices; power technologies reflect how individuals seek permanent visibility as a result of the embodiment of the media industry in regulatory devices that promote subjectivities adjusted to the regime of visibility; and the technologies of the self, which are shaped as the support that tends to achieve idealized states of well-being―visible and idealized subjectivities―promoted by social media (Foucault, 1990).
The study presented aims to respond to: what actions do teenagers deploy in social networks to achieve visibility? The general objective of this research question is to identify the actions carried out by teenagers on social networks in order to be visible. To this end, it delves into the practices that this collective deploys on social networks to become popular in the current media scenery.
To respond to the purpose that guides this study, an empirical research methodology is developed, with a quantitative design, framed in the expost-facto typology and descriptive character. We opt for a survey study through an online questionnaire for data collection. The research population is made up of adolescents from the Autonomous Community of Galicia who are in Compulsory Secondary Education. The sample is made up of 169 students ―between 12 and 17 years old― from two educational centers in Galicia and was selected through non-probabilistic convenience sampling, by which the subjects were chosen according to proximity and ease of access of the researchers to them. The sample consist of 39.7% of students belonging to the male gender and 6.1% to the female gender. For data collection, the survey method is chosen, creating an ad hoc questionnaire validated through expert judgment and a pilot test. The content validation was carried out by a total of nine experts with experience in the subject and the concordance between them was corroborated using Kendall's W coefficient. Subsequently, the survey was enhanced through a pilot application with adolescents who have the characteristics of the population to which the research is directed. The reliability of the survey was calculated with Cronbach's Alpha, obtaining a value (0.962) that highlights its high internal consistency and reliability. For the analysis of the body of data obtained in the application of the questionnaire, the statistical package SPSS version 25 was used. Univariate descriptive analyzes (percentages, measures of central tendency and measures of dispersion) as well as comparisons of groups, means and cross tables were performed.
This study shows that contemporary teenagers submit to the regime of visibility that dominates in today's society in the search to be visible and popular on social networks. It is observed that they are immersed in what is called 'celebrity culture' (MacIsaac et al., 2017) due to the effort they make to be perceived as popular in these environments. To do this, they feel the need to show their privacy, resorting to the dominant stimulus in social networks: visual. It is found that young people use the palpable in order to achieve recognition and projecting an idealized life on a social level, reflecting the most positive aspects about themselves. The content about oneself is the one that most publish, positioned like this, the 'visibility of the self' as the central nucleus of its media productions and performances (Berriman and Thomson, 2014). In the desire to show a successful subjectivity in social networks, they put into play their private dimension that mediates their practices in these spaces, oriented to reach visibility. Thus, teenagers shape their visible subjectivity according to the interactions of the audience. It is observed that when they obtain indices that meet or exceed their expectations, they experience positive rewards ―increased self-esteem, satisfaction and well-being―. It is manifested that adolescents are the ones who experience greater gratification as a result of the reactions of their audience, they also predominate in the search to be visible in these spaces. Therefore, this work shows how contemporary teenagers coexist in social networks under the precepts imposed by the visibility regime because current society imposes that being visible is synonymous with social transcendence―a crucial aspect in this vital stage― thus projecting itself a threatening image of invisibility that motivates persistence to be recognized (Sibilia, 2008).
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