Committed Commenting and the Virtual Visage: Contextualizing Sorority Social Media Encounters

Jack Portman

Abstract


This article addresses the ways in which collegiate sorority women deploy sorority-specific aesthetic cues to construct socially acceptable and recognizable presentations of themselves online. I suggest that sorority members initiate and invite social media interaction as a means of parlaying their own media posts into discursive sites, thereby participating in a complex and considerably stratified economy of display and recognition. Sorority members also exert social capital through public demonstrations of social network linkages— demonstrations which can only be performed successfully if one maintains legitimacy and good standing within the media economy. I probe the implications of theorizing social media posting (particularly to the digital media platform Instagram) as a communal art creation practice that strengthens group social linkages and reifies communally observed aesthetic guidelines. I also address the stylistic and discursive regimens that shape expectations of media presentation, contrasting these practices with the comparatively candid and informal presentation styles exemplified in Fake Instagram (“finsta”) posting behaviors.


Keywords


social media; gift economies; Instagram; sororities

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.15273/jue.v12i1.11317

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The JUE is a peer-reviewed online journal that publishes original ethnographic research by undergraduates working in a variety of disciplines. Submissions are welcomed. Contact the Editor, Karen McGarry.

ISSN 2369-8721