Let’s start off with a brief summary of the article. It basically talks about a recent phenomenon which involves weddings and twitter. The idea behind it was to create hash-tags for weddings for people to tweet about before and during the event, thus “trending” that specific event, in this case a wedding, and creating buzz around it.
If we look at this article and apply Baym’s ideas regarding the four social discourses, we can apply two of them in particular. One of the approaches that the author of the article is taking, the idea behind this article, and the vibe it is sending, makes it seem as though twitter has been with us all along, and is so integrated into our culture that everyone has it and knows how to use it. Furthermore, with a statement such as “What to get the social-media savvy couple who have everything (including all the Facebook “likes” they could ever need)?” (A Special Day (Online)), we can see that the author is leaning toward the Domestication of technology approach. By referring to them as the “Media savvy” couple, and due to the fact that they have exhausted their Facebook likeability, he assumes that twitter will be the next obvious choice.
On the other hand, we can also see in the article the social shaping of technology approach and the co-production between what technologies allows users to do and what users want to use it for. “The online popularity crown is unlikely to replace traditional presents, but couples prize it because it can’t be registered for, much less bought, and asking for it would be like requesting a surprise party.” (A Special Day (Online))With this quote we can see the affordances this technology gives us and what we want out of it. In this case it allows us to try and make a special event even more special, and gives us what we want, which is “one of the best, most unique gifts our friends could give us.” (Ms. Voth, A Special Day (Online)). Moreover, with non-traditional wedding greetings such as “may you always follow each other,”, and referring to the happy couple as “Tweethearts,” we can see how technology has made its way into our language and our social (and even sacred) rituals.
We can also apply some of Donath‘s ideas about “Sociable Media” to this article. “Sociable media are media that enhance communication and the formation of social ties among people” (Sociable Media.) This is exactly what this article is talking about. These wedding hash-tags increase the communication between a specific group of people, and forms social ties between them. One of the people mentioned in the article, Mr. Masse, “who does not have phone numbers for some of his friends but communicates via Twitter direct message…” (A Special Day (Online)) is the example of how this technology is a “sociable media.” Donath also says that we humans “live and thrive in cooperative groups” (Sociable Media.) In this case this cooperation is important in order to achieve the ultimate goal, which is to get the specific event “trending.” We can also look at the rhythm of this communication. Donath writes that “as the frequency of communication increases, messages become more informal and intimate”(Sociable Media.) what could be more informal then a tweet, and more intimate then a wedding wish?
After watching the Youtube video “Anthropological Introduction to Youtube,” some of the ideas from the video can be applied to this article as well. The video talks about bringing strangers together and the formation of communities. The fact that we don’t have to know all the people (and we probably don’t) in the weeding, just goes to show how this technology is helping us to build that new community. In this case a very local, very specific, very target-oriented one, but a community in every sense of the word. The other idea from the video we can apply to this article is the notion of private and public. In the video this is addressed in the sense that you can make a video in your room, and come from a very private place, while this video can get viral and become as public as one can be. The wedding hash-tag has the same quality. A private thing like a weeding becomes something public that everyone can read about, possibly see pictures of, and participate in.
Is the hash-tagging of weddings a cool idea? Debatable. Will I want it for my wedding? Probably not. Is the idea of using the affordances of technology as gifts a sign that technology is now embedded deeply into our culture? Most defiantly. Should we be scared by this? I honestly don’t know.