Rethinking Social Media Through Metaphor

In a recently published book chapter, Daniel le Roux and Douglas Parry explore the use of four metaphors as a means to illuminate particular dimensions of social media logic —the norms, strategies, and economics underpinning its dynamics. The first metaphor, social media as a town square, draws attention to the centrality of social media platforms in their users’ lives, fear of missing out, augmented reality and digital dualism. Through the second metaphor, social media as a beauty pageant, they explore self-presentation or image crafting, social comparison and self-evaluation. The third metaphor, social media as a parliament, emphasises the role of social media platforms as spaces for online deliberation and we consider social media capital, homophily and polarisation as themes. Finally, they explore anonymity, deindividuation and deceptive self-presentation through our fourth metaphor, social media as a masquerade ball. Social media scholars can use these and other metaphors to enhance communication of their research findings. Additionally, the metaphors can be powerful pedagogical and communication tools, particularly when working with students for whom high levels of social media use is the norm.

Download a preprint copy of the paper here.

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