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Abstract: ʻFreshly Generated for You, and Barack Obamaʼ: How Social Media Represent Your Life

Rettberg, J.W. (2009). ‘Freshly generated for you, and Barack Obama’: how social media represent your life. European Journal of Communication, 24(4), 451-466.

The primary point of this article is that the information we give to social media, be it personal, travel-oriented, photographic, or anything, combines to create a narrative surrounding us.  The author uses a personal example of Dopplr.com’s 2008 Personal Annual Report to show the ways location, contacts and chronology intertwine to tell a story. It is argued that the ways in which we document our lives in ‘personal media’ contributes to a type of cultural template that shape these narratives. Included in these templates are the ways in which this information is organized and presented. The media itself shows its users information about their travel, search history, or reading tastes generating what the author calls filtered self-portraits. The author suggests that this may be good as it allows us to see our place in the the cultural templates and larger stories of the world.