Anthropology of Social Media


When we hear the words 'social media' we immediately think of Facebook and Twitter, WhatsApp and Instagram. But these are just platforms. Actually, Social media is the vast amount of content we have produced and its consequences for our lives. The content we produce are not just memes and Selfies alone, but they are also tools for making and breaking relationships, a means for creating equality and/or reinforcing inequality. While there have been grand claims made about how social media has impacted the lives of people around the world, we often fail to ask is it really likely that social media has changed the life of a low-income builder in Brazil in exactly the same way as it has for an IT professional in South India or that of a factory worker in China? Consider this claim... social media is a sort of big brother that knows all our intimate details and we have lost our rights to privacy. While it is true for some, it is equally true that social media is also the first-time people experience privacy. For e.g. In China, for some people far from being a threat to their privacy, social media was actually the very first time they had experienced what we would call individual privacy. This was true in Turkey as well. Similarly, while it is true that while some might view social media as a distraction to education, it is equally true that for a few others social media is itself education. Likewise, for some the Selfie is more about expressing friendship rather than individual glamour, thus subverting the notion of individualism. How do we know this? Why do people see the same phenomenon differently? While it is important to understand 'what' content we produce, the question of why we produce such content is equally significant. This course meant as an introductory course is about People and an attempt at understanding and uncovering subtle texts for breakthrough insights. This course invites you to come and see for yourselves what people around the world do with social media.

  1. This course will nudge learners to delve into deeper insights about the content on social media by encouraging them to seek ‘why’ people post what they post, rather than just ‘what’ they post.
  2. Through an introduction to ethnographic case studies, the learner will be encouraged to apply and incorporate ideas of correlating significant but seemingly tiny clues to a larger canvas.
  3. The learner would be able to apply insights gleaned from this course onto the social media profiles of people in order to both appreciate and understand diversity, along side recognizing echo chambers
  4. The learner will be able to present team work to an audience in a creative and easily accessible format.

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