Celebrity, Performativity, and the Age of the Selfie: Young People and Virtual Selfhood

We conclude Module 1 of ALC201 Exploring New Media: Users, Setting, Implications this week, with the third meLecture ‘episode’ addressing the topic, ‘Celebrity, Performativity, and the Age of the Selfie: Young People and Virtual Selfhood’…

In parts 2 and 3 of this week’s meLecture, I have an in depth conversation with Professor David Marshall, the Chair of New Media, Communication, and Cultural Studies at Deakin University. David’s reflections are immensely interesting and important (and, as I suggest in the meLecture, I highly recommend you take notes while watching!), so I don’t want or need to say much on this topic myself. But I did want to leave you with one short passage from last week’s reading by Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson, which is just as significant in relation to the current topic as it was for the last one:

If by authenticity one means the unmediated access to some ‘essence’ or ‘truth’ of a subject, virtual environments only make clearer the critique made by poststrucural theorists that all self-presentation is performative, that authenticity is an effect, not an essence. (Smith and Watson 2014, p. 75)

Smith and Watson turn to theorists who speak of ‘authenticity’ as ‘manufactured’ and ‘calculated’ – a form of stage management. This is not an inherently negative or problematic quality, but reinforces the crucial importance of looking upon the commonplace notion of a ‘true self’ as a stable, coherent, and singular entity with a large degree of scepticism.

Enjoy the rest of the meLecture!




Smith, S and Watson, J 2014, ‘Virtually Me: A Toolbox about Online Self-Presentation’, in Poletti, A and Rak, J, Identity Technologies: Constructing the Self Online, The University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, pp. 70-95.


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