Ok, I found a problem.

Growing up in a small town, I had dreamed of getting out and exploring the world and doing marvelous things. But to do that, we need money, education and a good head on your shoulders (mentally, not physically – although it seems attractiveness is the answer). The concept of bettering myself became clear, but the journey is always unknown. So, that’s when we turn to someone above, someone who has experienced it. Learn from their mistakes, absorb a healthy structure into our daily lives that then flourishes into a healthier and happier life. Sounds good and easy, right?

This concept of self-development has been around for years. But, today, in the era of internet technologies and a saturated market, who is real and who is fake? Taking on the role of being an influencer, you have a lot of responsibilities. The nature of this topic is very personal and sensitive. So, why do I see a large majority of people who are self-taught self-help gurus flooding social media rather then educated clinical psychologists or trained spiritual healers. I discovered this problem the deeper I went into my newsfeed. The algorithms handed me Instagram influencers with a passion for self-help instead of trained clinicians.

Why is this an issue?

Mental health should be taken very seriously. Yes, people can show their support by sharing content etc. But the issue arises when influencers who are not accredited or educated in the field, claim to have the answer. Mental health has always been a personal interest of mine. As Sarah Wall (2006) states, an initial engagement with a research topic occurs with an discovery of an intense interest that is not only meaningful, but has broader social implications. I believe this research topic would take the interest of others. Purely because, we can agree that social media influencers in the marketing spectrum take over our news feed, leaving the educated and accredited ones behind.

So how will I carry out this research task?

Through observation and autoethnography, I hope to obtain new knowledge about this topic as well as define a problematic feature, and narrow my focus on that aspect and synthesize it with theoretical frameworks. I hope to find an understanding of the broader social implications this problem has a input in.

My process.

The process will be a process itself, I have no clear indication on how exactly I will carry out this research task, or other elements and concepts that arise as I dive deeper. But at this point, I aim to follow more and examine influential accounts, both the educated and ‘claimed to be’. I will take part in journaling personally and observing others interactions with these accounts. In my journaling adventures, I will take note on my emotions, the time and place that I am engaging with the posts, and what type of posts they are. For example, late at night I scroll through an account with motivational quotes. Why is that? Do I want to reflect on it, and make a better day tomorrow? Or I find myself saving posts about anxiety and meditation. And why do I go on social media instead of helpful resources like Beyond Blue? This question bothers me.

My loose schedule.

References

Wall, Sarah (2006) An Autoethnography on Learning about Autoethnography, International Journal of Qualitative Methods 5 (2).

The personal growth influencer.

Humans are interesting, aren’t they? One moment they are hunting, gathering and killing themselves from eating unknown poisonous berries and next they are taking filtered selfies concerned with the number of likes they can get. Evolution is crazy. How would our ancestors behave if they jumped through time and landed here today?

Where am I going with this?

Well, I have always been curious about technology and its impact on our lives and mental and physical well being. Yes it has done wonders. But has it stripped us apart from our natural selves and mother nature? Do people prefer to communicate online rather than in person? Are we addicted to technology and is this unhealthy? The questions are endless.

Technology has immersed itself deeply into our daily routines, becoming a habit to check social media instead of checking in with ourselves or binge watch a series on Netflix. But the good news is, we can access some great people and information online (if you look for it).

Influencer’s dominate the media and are quite fundamental in a brands marketing strategy. Studying marketing has made me aware and more skeptical of social media influencer’s. However, my interest lays with the influencer’s in the realm of Mental Health, as I believe they have a positive agenda for society. They aim to encourage people to improve their mental health, transform their life and to become the happy successful person they aspire to be.

I can’t pick the day that my journey in ‘Self-development’ began. I do remember, having yet another downer of a day. I was in the shopping center (which I hate) and Harry Hartog caught my eye. I remembered my coach talking about this book ‘The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A Fuck’ by Mark Manson. So I went in, it was over in the ‘Self-development’ section. I probably spent 30 minutes looking at all these glorious books by these inspiring authors, already planning my next purchase.

After reading the book, I bought his next one ‘Everything is Fucked’. I really enjoyed reading these books, and getting back into reading. I enjoyed it so much that I shared it on Instagram, Classic… Friends responded to my post, sharing how these books had helped them through a tough time and shifted their perspective on life. This inspired me more.

So, for my BCM241 ethnographic project. My ‘Media Niche’ will be (subject to change) the subculture of self-development, in which sits under the umbrella of Mental Health. Ethnography is the observation and analysis of the patterns and processes in human activity. It explores cultural phenomena through methodological research processes (Christine & Immy, 2011). Autoethnography is the study of the individual experience in order to understand a cultural experience (Christine & Immy, 2011).

This ‘niche’ includes key industry leaders that have their own websites, best selling novels, podcasts, strong social media followings and conduct meaningful webinars. It also includes social media influencer’s without an academic degree that inspire their dedicated followers. It also includes people like me, an average person interested in the topic for personal reasons. Investigating ethnography will not only deeper my understanding of the niche, but I may undergo so personal growth myself.

Being fascinated by this topic, it would be interesting to understand why and how other people have made this journey. It goes beyond the influencers sharing their wisdom. It has developed a movement among the people. More and more I see people (who are not influencers) share their about self-care and their morning yoga routine. However, like many things, this could be a fad or just for the gram.

https://giphy.com/gifs/loG7TbqLitOPTVfg3o

References

Daymon Christine and Holloway Immy (2011) ‘Ethnography’, Qualitative Research Methods in Public Relations and Marketing Communications. Routledge: New York.