Social media masterclass // reflection

Today I attended a fantastic masterclass by the DERC research group and Young and Well. It is amazing to be at an academic level where you get to go along to free and highly relevant seminars with pastries and coffee included. As a novice researcher, that is such a biggie.

It was almost like seeing Beyonce at priceline and getting a photo with her. Seeing your research idols of the moment in the one place and being able to actually access their stupendous mental capacity was fantastic.

Predictably I found this to be the case with Crystal Abidin, who I’ve talked about before.

She spoke the language current to my research soul.

Some stuff I wrote down besides YAAASSS QWWEEEN repeatedly.

  • Separate analysis by platform, into physical or digital not online and offline. NOT online and offline. Online and offline communication intermesh in real life, for instance some bloggers in Crystal’s study felt more comfortable communicating via technology even in her physical presence. It is important to speak about contexts as platforms, so physical platform is reaching out and touching communication and digital is done in a virtual space.
  • The coolest thing ever: as part of her ethnography Crystal became an intern/PA to some of these famous Singaporean bloggers. I asked her to expand on how she teed that up and what she learned and she spoke about ironing clothing non stop for two weeks and feeling like the mundane activity could never be beneficial to her PHD. But actually it was as she saw the evolution of the clothes sponsors would send the blogger to wear in terms of garment type and label. She would also edit their instagram posts for grammatical errors, which I just found awesome.
  • She found most of the interesting conversations she had with the women in her study took place in bathrooms, a secret place where women can be honest with eachother. Perhaps in the bar after a few bevs and a lippie touch up the best ethnography can be conducted?
  • The subjects in her study became like friends to her, texting her at the end of a bad night etc. this put her in a really tricky spot as a researcher.
  • There was a very ambiguous transference of intimacy from the digital into the physical world. Bloggers she had interacted with online who had sent her a series of smiley faces, I love yous and xxx’s did not know how to behave with her in a physical environment once they met in the flesh. Coooool.
  • She talked lots about knowing the communicative norms of the environment you are studying, so being like a translator or knowing the shorthand your group chooses to communicate with. Getting to know what is the most comfortable way for the group to communicate so you can duplicate this…………………………………………. to this I asked what if the language/behaviours of a community are extremely poisonous and negative? Does adapting these to gain trust/access perpetuate that? What kind of ethics conundrums does that stir up? To which Crystal later said to look up the work of Paul Byron at UNSW who works with teens to gain insight into attitudes toward sexual health. Byron says that it isn’t always best for a researcher to follow the ethical rules as sometimes people respond better to their own language. I don’t know about this… but I need to look up Byron’s work and see what kind of rationale he gives for it. I get what Crystal said about using language that is a departure from institutional/clinical forms of communication…..


One comment

  1. wishcrys

    Hi Holly,

    I just chanced upon this space! Thank you for this beautiful reflective piece. I’m glad you enjoyed the workshop 🙂


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