As time has gone on social media has become an integral part of our everyday lives. On social media we share images and thoughts to create an aggregation of stories that make up our lives. Posting photos on Instagram have replaced the photo book which probably sits packed away somewhere in our homes.
When we go to look for a photo we search our social media profiles. We approach conversations saying, “did you see the photo I uploaded yesterday?”
Image sharing has become a normal part of life and the quickest way to share a fleeting moment.
“We can process images far quicker than we can process written text. Studies have shown that it takes only 150ms for us to process and image, and then another 100ms for us to attach any meaning to it. That is literally the blink of an eye. Words take us much longer to understand, even if you are a speed reader. It can take you up to twice as long to process and recognize words.” –Andrew Tate
But what are we really consuming?
The way that we upload images online has evolved. When it started out, we would attach some sort of description to the image followed by a few hashtags. Now, we barley post a description. If there is one, it’s either an emoji, a quote from someone else or a two word caption. We geo-tag our location and tag the people in the image.
From there the audience needs to derive their own meaning. But in fact, we know nothing about the story that came about the produce that photo. What the photo means to the person and its significance within their lives. We only know what we are shown and from that we create our own meaning.
Hence, we are loosing the story behind the photo.
My digital storytelling project will focus on retrieving the stories behind our photos. Turning a quick scroll through Instagram into a stream of consciousness.
To carry out my project I will create an Instagram page where I will ask people to share a photo of themselves at a point where they were truly happy. Focusing on the element of happiness provides a theme for my project where each photo will in some way be linked to create a continuous flow of different perspectives and outlooks on the same feeling–but delivered through photos.
Each photo will be accompanied by a short caption where the person will describe the image. This could be:
- How the photo was taken
- Where the photo was taken
- The effort to take the photo
- What happened just before the photo was taken
- What happened just after the photo was taken
- What was happening around the photo that the audience doesn’t see
- Why the photo is important
- What the photo means to them
- Who made this photo a significant one
- When was the photo taken
This provides a context for each photo.
By grouping all of these photos together, its creates a bridge made out of pebbles. This is where the sum of these individual stories “adds up to something truly substantive, like a suspension bridge made of pebbles” (Johnson 2009). On their own, the images would hold minimal worth but together, it creates a stream of consciousness.
Who will take part in my project?
I want to involve people of all ages, within different social groups and at different points in their life to share an image of true happiness. The images need to be taken by them and accompanied with a short description to provide context. From this we will be able to start seeing trends and understand the true meaning behind images.
How will I present it using Couldry’s methodologies?
My project will be presented on Instagram because of it’s heavily reliance on images and the ability to create a meta-narrative using images first with text as supplementary context. I will develop the idea coined by Couldy where “the narratives of narratives used digital infrastructure to spatialize developing processes of narrative exchange, so expanding and complicating their meaning” (2014, pg. 14). By using images to create a narrative exchange on the digital infrastructure of Instagram, I will expand on the images meaning by curating the images around the theme of happiness and complicating their meaning by adding the story behind the image.
My limitations will be finding people that will share their happiest moments in text. Sharing an image of happiness is easier than writing a description about what it means. This could be because of the lack of memory or because turning emotion into words is difficult because we have become so reliant on using images and visual content to express our views.
Couldry N, MacDonald R, Stephanesn H, Clark W, Dickens L & Fotopoulou A, 2014 Constructiong a digital storycircle: digital infrastructure and mutual recognition , London School of Economics and Political Science <http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/54412/1/Couldry_Constructing-a-digital-storycircle_2014.pdf>
Tate A 2015, ’10 Scientific Reasons People are Wired to Respond to your Visual Marketing,’ Canva Visual Marketing, May 19, accessed 22 September 2016 <https://designschool.canva.com/blog/visual-marketing/>
Johnson, S 2009, ‘How Twitter Will Change The Way We Live’, TIME Magazine, 5 June, accessed 20th September 2016, http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1902818-2,00.html