Digimodernism in Social Media

As a millennial born into the midst of the beginning of digimodernism, it is a movement that is entrenched into my own and my peer’s society. Digimodernism looks to describe the changing culture we see on the online world, and the way this new representation of media changes the way we consume content. As Rose discusses in her post, Alan Kirby relates the role of the digital to both art and culture.

Kirby focuses specifically on digimodernism in relation to textuality. However, our modern age has a rapidly developing culture unlike any of the generations before us, thus making the modern generation extremely unique. The digital world improves tremendously from year to year as our technology is constantly trying to become better than the last form produced. Social media websites contain a huge part of our current culture resulting in a change from the time Kirby’s novel was written, to what we see in the world today. This change primarily focuses on imaging. Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram use images as a catalyst to exchange information. A picture or post is produced and the poster’s friends/ followers interact with the post through commenting, liking or forwarding. These reactions can take place at any time with the possibility to start new discussion introducing elements of onwardness and haphazardness. The change from text to imaging is a product of the rapid technological advances we have seen. We have fairly high quality cameras on our phones and laptops and can send images within seconds. This drastically changes the way we consume our information. Our generation reads and believes almost everything found on social media. One consumes content differently from a picture than through a long text.

Snapchat for example, has a strong connection to digimodernism. The social media platform is perhaps one of the best examples of evanescence, defined as: “text is difficult to capture and archive, has no interest in being reproducible”. Snapchat pictures are taken and sent to the viewer, who can then open and view the image for any time from 1-10 seconds. Users use this to their advantage and can change the view time based on how much they want the viewer to be able to read, or how long they want the viewer to be able to see the picture. Pictures are taken and sent very quickly without the intention of being reproduced. Evan Spiegel, the founder of snapchat, said, “Historically, photographs have always been used to save really important memories, but today… pictures are being used for talking”. Spiegel recognizes the change in today’s younger demographic. When an image is taken, the amount of text is limited to four lines, putting the focus on the image itself, often a picture of an individual or space. Therefore, image is responsible for relaying most of the message.

Another aspect of digimodernism is the change in the relationship between the creator and the audience. Instead of having an object created by one person and consumed by another, digimodernism creates a medium for the viewer to actively change the object, the consumer “gives to the world textual content or shapes the development and progress of a text in visible form”. Many social media posts accompany a caption such as; “if this post gets X amount of likes/retweets I/we will…” which include reaction from the viewers, resulting in the audience having the ability to make change or have an impact if they forward the post. Therefore, reformulation and intermediation of textual roles is present on most of our social media platforms. The basic premise of “liking” someone’s post or photo also requires a reaction from the audience. The viewer is allowed to express their opinion to the post through a symbol that others can also see. Facebook even has a feature where you can “react” to a post in different ways. From my personal experience I believe that this effects my generation in particular because many people are obsessed with the amount of likes they receive as if it translates the popularity. The new form of reaction from your followers/friends is very important to my generation.

As Rose states, “Although it may seem that digimodernism amounts to a mere shifting of medium, it actually has profound impacts on the ways we consume, use, and understand media and narratives”. Our generation in particular practically lives on digital modes like cellphones and laptops. We are educated online, and socialize online. We are used to (and dependent upon) having information at our fingertips and exchanging information quickly. Therefore, digimodernism will continue to be present as new technology is put out and new forms of communication are created.

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