Friday, 23 August 2013

Online Songlines

Instagram is essentially a virtual map of personal experiences and events, in which everyone is available to follow and add to. Similar to the Aboriginal song lines and the stories of The Dreaming, Instagram profiles are records and ‘as ways of communication between even the most far-flung’ (Chatwin, 1987). Authenticity is also a key factor in creating unique narrative to profiles, and the freedom users have in creating there profile provides a humanistic view which relies on the values and worth of each person. This hyperlink provides a section of, The Essence of Humanism, by William James, an essay discussing humanism.  

Unlike other popular social networking sites such as Facebook and twitter, Instagram does not allow users to fill in a basic information page, where interests and hobbies are displayed. In fact, your real name isn’t even required on you profile, your entire personal information is displayed in a box beneath your profile picture, where you are free to write, or not write anything. This freedom avoids user profiles being ‘considered as autobiographical subjects’ (McNeill, 2012), and almost creating for themselves, a virtual identity.

 An autobiographical approach doesn’t allow profiles to be authentic, as users simply follow the guidelines millions of others have. Instead of creating an almost cyborg like profile, Instagram shows a collage of photos with dates and comments, making each person’s profile unique. Similar to an Aboriginal Songline, ‘a kind of narrative of things that once happened; a kind of charter of things that still happen’ (Stanner, 1979). Although Songlines and Instagram profiles are a completely different narrative format, they both provide authentic and unique narrative structure.

Although not entirely authentic, Instagram attempts to capture daily life. Considering that there is a lack of any personal information regarding interests, birthdate and location of users, it is left up to followers to gather a perspective from a gallery of images. Creating a personality instead of just another user.

Chatwin, B. (1987). Chapter 3, In Songlines (pp. 11-15). London, England: Jonathan Cape.
James, W. "The Essence of Humanism," which first appeared in The Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Methods, March 2, 1905.
McNeill, L. (2012). There is no “I” in network: Social networking sites and post human auto-biography. In Biography, 35(1), 101-118.
Stanner, W.E.H. (1979). The dreaming (1953), in White man got no dreaming: essays 1938-1973 (pp. 23-30). Canberra, Australia: Australian Notational University Press.
Picture Reference:

Instagram (image), 21 of our favourite Phone apps (2012), taken from

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