Photojournalist: Stefin Elsy
‘Nobody cares about your C.V any more’, says Raj Kotecha.
We carry it around in our pockets, the gateway to unlimited interaction. What are the best ways to use Facebook? What effect does it have on face-to-face socializing? Can it increase your opportunity to nab a job?
The annual research conference MCRAW [Media & Communication Research and Analysis Wing], organized by the School of Media & Communication (SOMC) at Manipal University, Dubai on 21st May shows us our favourite interactive apparatus in an academic light, answering all those questions and more. Now you may say: a conference? What fun is that?
On the contrary, MCRAW2015 gives us an interesting take on using social media; how it affects gamers’ preferences, how it has the capacity to turn into an addiction, and ethical questions about social media use [should you really post that borderline-degrading picture of a friend?].
Organized by the 3rd year Advertising & Event Management students, this year’s theme focuses on ‘Social Media: Consumption, Impact & Gratification’. The event was kick-started by the keynote speaker, Dr. Meena. T. Pillai, among other things the Director of the Centre for Cultural Studies and Associate Professor, Institute of English and University of Kerala.
Dr. Pillai’s paper, titled ‘Virality of the Male Gaze: The Selfie and Commodification of Women’, shows how a selfie can be all about public promotion and representational politics. She discusses how feminists women have struggled with the selfie and attempted to make it a weapon against commodification of their bodies, but the same offline misogyny that liberal women are met with in traditional societies, is reflected online.
She added that perhaps the overt sexualisation of women in selfies was because of how they are now viewing themselves.
“A woman sees herself through a man’s gaze. This, in turn, induces the sexist pattern of viewing,”
said Dr. Pillai. So, instead of riding against the wave, post-feminism, in terms of social media, has picked up a new meaning: use your feminine-self to your advantage [Pick up that phone, post a selfie, and use your beauty to your advantage].
Mary John, Clinical Psychologist from the Dubai Community Health Centre, pitched in to warn us about social media and internet addiction, bringing insightful research to the table, like:
Males share more about themselves online than women do.
Professor Abderrahmane Azzi, the Dean of the College of Communication from the University of Sharjah, posed some serious ethical questions we should ask ourselves before posting and sharing content online, and discussed taking responsibility for engagement with social media.
Many others presented the lighter, advantageous side of social media; among these, Raj Kotecha, Founder of Creative Content Agency, and Omar Al Sharif, Founder of Geeky Lizard, were unbeatable crowd favorites.
Start a blog, jot down photoshop hacks – show it off online.
Raj Kotecha uses his first-hand experience as an international-DJ-turned-strategist, to give some simple advice: use social media to buoy your career opportunities. Titled ‘Digital you: Importance of Creating a Powerful Personal Brand Online’, his talk was all about building a powerful online reputation for yourself [because that employer? He’s sure going to google you].
On the other hand, Omar Al Sharif talks about ‘Social media in the Pop Cultures of the Middle East’. Being a die-hard gamer, Omar invoked laughter amongst the gamers and non-gamers alike, through his personal gaming anecdotes. He emphasized the growing love for video games in the UAE, and how it is sustained by the surge in use of social media.
Social networking allows gamers to come together for discussions and networking, creating a whole new world of competitive gaming.
The conference then moved on to discussing student research papers, covering a multitude of topics like the Misrepresentation of People of Colour in Hollywood Movies. The best research papers were awarded prizes at the end of the sessions.
Suha Sabith (‘Renewed Hunger- A Look into the Vampire Rebirth in the 21st Century’), Savana Christy (‘Occultism in Harry Potter-The Movies’), and Revathy Rajan (‘Comparison of Crime Solving Procedures between Indian and Western Television Crime Shows’) won the first, second, and third place respectively, for the most intriguing and well-presented papers.
MCRAW is a significant scientific step in furthering our knowledge of the pervasive connectivity that goes so far as to follow us into the toilet and out [Don’t you deny it]. Let the research build up so that we know the upside and downside to each like and re-tweet we get – What’s your take?