The Kardashian Moment: Hashtag, Selfie and the Broken Internet

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Abstract

The article focuses on a hashtags as a tool of networked culture and networked social movements, and – at the same time – on self-expression phenomenon of a selfie. Although today hashtags, in particular, can been seen as a frequently used weapon in information wars and a tool of propaganda 2.0, seen from historical perspective, this very tool aligns itself first and foremost with emancipatory forces in the Internet history. These forces, expressed in A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace and in participatory ideals of Web 2.0 are now in withdrawal.

As the Internet is now in a peculiar development phase, ruled by the logic of surveillance capitalism, those early ideals of free speech and exchange of ideas are now overshadowed by a “darkening of the digital dream (Shoshana Zuboff).

The central argument suggests that the “Kardashian moment” on the one hand, and Occupy Wallstreet, on the other hand, constituted a point in time where new media affordances and social phenomena were aligned. At the same time, both hashtag and selfie can be viewed as a response to the betrayalof individualization processes started in the 1960s, then carried on and amplified by the early Internet, and in the end commodified by the growing Internet giants and established structures of power.

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