“Seeing Ourselves Through Technology: Chapter 3 (notes)


Continuing in her pretentious, yet captivating style, chapter 3 is a close up look at the world of selfies. Relating to a lot of the things covered in the first and second chapters, Jill Rettberg almost ties all three of them together in this one. Self portraits, self representation and filtering are one and the same when it comes to the “selfie.” She covers the transition from the photo booth, to the digital camera with the ability to edit, to the smart phone, which is today’s top choice for our selfie needs. It also attempts to iterate that looking at a single picture on someone’s blog or timeline doesn’t necessarily tell you anything about that person. Rather, posts (and their attached selfie) are cumulative, and tell a story. The story isn’t always clear, but tend to give a surprising amount of insight. We also learn that people take selfies for different reasons, and not all of them are frivolous or vain ones. Conversely, some are very sad, albeit attempting to be informative at the same time.

(some key points and ideas)

  • Metonym –Metonymy is a figure of speech in which a thing or concept is referred to by the name of something closely associated with that thing or concept (Wikipedia)
  • Photo booth – The beginning of taking more than one picture and selecting the best. Filtering at its finest.
  • Psychic Automatism – Attempting to capture in art (paintings, drawings, tattoos, photos) the actual functioning of a thought. Also called…
  • Surrealism – A kind of “subculture” of subconscious art
  • Viral Video – A video, a clip of a video, or sometimes a photograph that is rapidly spread through online sharing
  • Cultural Filters – Help us determine the rituals, customs, and norms of a society or subculture


Whatever happened to “duck face”? Is that not a thing anymore? I remember shortly after the selfie kick started off, people were shaming each other for making that face. We don’t hear much ridicule anymore since a lot of people (mostly women) do it now. Which is kind of what is being explained in this chapter. So far, I am really intrigued by the book as a whole, but that isn’t to say that I agree with all of it. I enjoyed how the article began by explaining that looking at singular posts or pictures on a person’s timeline doesn’t give us significant insight into who they are or how they are feeling, but rather they tell a cumulative story a lot of the time, but not always. At least not the story we may be building inside our own heads. There are a few different points when describing some of these artists (Kalina and Brown) for example as having “expressionless faces” – but I think you’re missing the point. There faces aren’t expressionless, I believe we are seeing exactly what the artists intended us to see. Too often we are too focused on what we THINK we are supposed to be looking at in a photograph. They didn’t have exaggerated expressions, but they still had an expression. In my opinion. We are gravitationally fascinated by these pictures and videos because they are real. We watch videos of other peoples’ special occasions and award winning because we have a need to see people that are happier than we are, or appear to be, for vicarious moments. And we are drawn to the sad ones, of peoples’ cancer stories and heart ache to remind us how much we have to be grateful for. Another thing I disagree with, is some of the things in this article are expressed as fact, when I see them more as opinions. Sometimes the lighting is just off causing a smile to look like a smirk, pictures can tell us a lot, but they can be misleading. To paraphrase (Pellicer) … none of the resulting pictures will fully correspond with what we want to see in ourselves. And as humans, we tend to think we are smarter than we are, and we often read too much into things. Sometimes a picture is just a memory. And… well, a picture.


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