In this investigation I take a multimodal and narrative interactional approach to the study of personal information shared by women, specifically mothers, in social media. This study contributes to the scholarship that has begun to examine the interactional dynamics of storytelling in social media environments (Georgakopoulou 2013, 2014, 2015a, 2015b; Page 2012, 2015a, 2015b). Insights into narrative practices emergent in social media contexts and their implications for how we can understand identity work and processes of world-making, remembering, and imagining are still limited, warranting further analysis.
Media scholars argue that social media ideologies, platform architectures, and terms of services (ToS) drive users to disclose ever larger parts of their lives to wide, networked audiences (van Djick 2013). Furthermore social media users’ beliefs, norms, and “practices of disclosing the everyday” (Crawford, 2009) make the sharing of personal materials a means by which they connect to others and establish intimacy and community (Pybus 2015). So tracking and broadcasting everyday life, which has been referred to as ‘life streaming’ (Marwick 2013), and engaging with this type of information made available by others have become highly normalised activities.
I examine how social media users through practices of (re)posting, (re)mixing, and content sequencing narrate the lives of women who broadcast their everyday lives as mothers in YouTube vlogs and how they during this process make certain types of identity become valued and privileged in the community that gathers around mummy vloggers. Specifically, I focus on how and to what means participants invoke time and space to story mummy vloggers’ lives and how stories about them are reworked as they are carried across time, sites, and tellers. Furthermore, I explore how participants negotiate telling roles, co-tellership rights to and ownership of stories of their own and others’ lives and how these interactions tie into negotiations of group membership, power, control of representation, responsibility, and moral.
Towards this aim, I combine an ethnographic approach with a multimodal approach (Jewitt 2015) and small stories methods for the analysis of online data (Georgakopoulou 2013, 2014, 2015a, 2015b). This method is well placed to examine how storytelling activities in social media involve a multiplicity of participation roles and are embedded in a dynamic web of interwoven stories, social relationships, and social practices that are facilitated and increasingly directed by converged, algorithmically and commercially steered sites.