Politically Curated —
Locating Spaces of Identity Construction in the Digital Space
Over the 2015 summer, I went to the United Kingdom for the first time. It happened to be a very contentious election with a surprise victory by David Cameron and the Tories. People were caught up in the political discourse throughout most of my trip, so I decided to collect the seemingly infinite flow of qualitative data and write a paper.
Expectedly, Facebook and social media outlets played pivotal roles in the spread of information and issue framing. With this in mind (and other inspiration from Craig Silverman), the main focus in my paper revolved around the spread of misinformation and manipulated news media through networked mediums. I found that people in both the U.K. and U.S. were increasingly frustrated with news media. These active frustrations, I felt, were people exercising their intention - and therefore constructing their identities. So this is where I directed my inquiry.
Three themes emerged from my discussions in both the U.K. and the U.S.: the curated self, the simplification of political ideologies, and the growth (arguable collapse) of the attention economy. Ultimately, I transpose Edward Comor's theory on consumption by positing the following: we are experiencing a deepening and widening of the technologies we use to construct our own identities. That is, we are able to include (and exclude) or express (and suppress) as well as the decision to interpret (or not) signals of identity in more ways than ever.
This work was presented at the National Conference for Undergraduate Research in 2016 and also was awarded 2nd Runner Up by the National Association for the Practice of Anthropology.