Selfies and Foucault

As I began my analysis of selfies using Foucault’s theories, I realized how deeply power/knowledge affects the “rules” of selfies.

Selfies are part of the complex social media power structure. Although anyone can join in, only a selected few become successful. Those on top create a truth regime around selfies, which dictate what is acceptable to post, what is trendy, what is right, etc.

If as power is everywhere, according to Foucault, then power is also in social media.

Selfies ¬†follow rules. Those rules include positioning the camera at certain angles in order to create the most flattering angle. It is imperative to show off one’s breasts or muscles. Hashtagging the selfies encourage one to buy into certain social norms in the hopes of getting more likes (or validation).

These rules act as a truth regime. The discourse of selfies demands that users create these self-photographs in order to appear successful, enticing, and advanced. A selfie in which a person posing on the streets of Manhattan dressed in high fashion apparel symbolizes power, success, and “having made it.”

This truth regime was formed by those in power. Such famous instagram users as Kim Kardashian, Kendall Jenner, and Justin Bieber perpetuate these ideals. By showing off their own bodies as status symbols through selfies, they are continuing this truth regime, which encourages the average person to follow suit. If an average joe posts a selfie shirtless showing off his ab muscles and tags it “photooftheday” (one of the most popular hashtags on instagram), he too is successful and advanced and desirable.

Finally, a truth regime works when average people, not just the ones at the top and in power, buy into it and accept it. Most users on instagram will post selfies at some point and believe it is acceptable to do so, which gives authenticity to the truth regime and cements it as such.

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