Drawing on 15 months of ethnographic research in one of the most
under-developed regions in the Caribbean island of Trinidad, this book
describes the uses and consequences of social media for its residents. Jolynna
Sinanan argues that this semi-urban town is a place in-between: somewhere city
dwellers look down on and villagers look up to. The complex identity of the
town is expressed through uses of social media, with significant results for
understanding social media more generally.
Not elevating oneself above others is one of the core values of
the town, and social media becomes a tool for social visibility; that is, the
process of how social norms come to be and how they are negotiated. Carnival
logic and high-impact visuality is pervasive in uses of social media, even if
Carnival is not embraced by all Trinidadians in the town and results in
presenting oneself and association with different groups in varying ways. The
study also has surprising results in how residents are explicitly non-activist
and align themselves with everyday values of maintaining good relationships in
a small town, rather than espousing more worldly or cosmopolitan values.
Jolynna Sinanan is Vice Chancellor's Postdoctoral Research Fellow at RMIT University, Melbourne. From 2011-2014, she was Research Fellow in Anthropology at UCL. She is co-author How the World Changed Social Media (with eight others) and Webcam. Her areas of research are digital ethnography, new media, migration and gender in Trinidad, Australia, and Singapore.