Date of Award

2019

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Communication Studies

Department

Communication Studies

First Advisor

Renee Hobbs

Abstract

The world we live in today is filled with different types of media and images constantly. Online technology allows for the exchange of this mass media instantly. With so much media swarming our daily lives, social media and visual imagery have become a part of our culture creating new forms of visual and perceptual communication to thrive online. Social media allows for an organizational system in which symbolic and expressive elements of visual culture are formed. This visual culture draws new platforms of social structures and interactions that include visual imagery such as pictures, videos, emoticons, gifs, memes, etc. Every tiny moving picture, to the personal information you post online, to the video clips from the news and captivating videography among various social media, how can we define which of these images matter? Visual communication & social media theory have changed the ways in which we acquire information, foresee connection, communicate, and make meaning in society. This thesis dives into the past of a young artist and picks apart her understanding of self throughout the duration of four years. Selfies are presented as new forms of socialization that continue to develop and innovate the ways in which we form our perception of the world. This perspective gives us a grounded view on how visual imagery can be defined within specific social media platforms. Specifically, the influence of digital images in our youth’s perception of the self, self-identity, or “selfie” has provided a specific form of image interpretation. Without a clear understanding of what selfies do to our perception we may become blinded by misguided intentions. As a society we need to put a focus on the study of visual imagery in the media and its effect on the self-identities. We must broaden our understanding of what these pictures are, how they create new communicative processes, and why they hold such value in our social world.

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