Social Media Content: Manifesting Reality or a Radically Fantasized Image?

Conference: The Kyoto Conference on Arts, Media & Culture (KAMC2022)
Title: Social Media Content: Manifesting Reality or a Radically Fantasized Image?
Stream: Visual Culture
Presentation Type: Live-Stream Presentation
Da Seul Lee, Waseda University, Japan


Social media content has emerged as a means for individuals to liberate their expressive voices by visualizing self-representative images. Due to the multifaceted benefits of the digital space, content narrates beyond showcasing the reality of users’ lifestyles and further portrays their constructed desired online personalities. This freedom of self-expression enriches content creativity; each creator becomes a brand that conceptualizes alternative characters through serialized episodes or exaggerates their personas to captivate more subscribers. This essay analyzes the recent popular content that reached high click-through rates or searched keywords on YouTube and TikTok in Japan and Korea to examine the trend of users sharing their quotidian routines or framing their narratives to fit their idealized images to feel attention as the protagonist in content. Some act as social media influencers and advertise products to their devoted fan communities, which their power affects in different ways than traditional celebrity capital. Contrary to cultural mystification, social media content transforms an individual into a commodified reification. Ironically, it constructs segmented in-groups of privatized collectivism through sharing the same languages. By deconstructing the narrated concepts of highly-viewed content from 2021, this essay examines how creators project fantasized identities and manifest their desires in online spaces, which has led to questions about the impact on social perspective and media consumption in the current media ecology. Social media becomes a space where being the “other” is permitted. It enlivens contemporary audiences to stay in their utopian bubble through in-direct interaction while perpetuating conformity in the online space.

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