Precarious Popularity: Facebook Drinking Photos (Lit Review, Donaldson)

Article Reviewed: Precarious Popularity: Facebook, Drinking Photos, the Attention Economy, and the Regime of the Branded Self 


Precarious Popularity incorporates several different groups of young adults who use Facebook to illustrate people drinking and the implied self-based on their photos and posts. This literature article looks into different scenarios of why certain situations deal with young adults drinking. It is a time for them to dig deeper into the meaning on the self and why young people find it “cool” to post photos of themselves drinking and partying. It shows that through the various observations young adults have a deeper meaning behind their Facebook profiles.

Precarious Popularity: Facebook Drinking Photos, the Attention Economy, and the Regime of the Branded Self

Literature Review

Barbara Donaldson

Facebook has become one of the most well-known social media networks for young adults to gain and raise their popularity. Facebook is known as a platform where people are given the freedom of speech to post whatever may be on his or her mind. It helps develop a sense of self and open people’s eyes to how he or she may be if a person were to meet them face-to-face. In this review, it is important for the researchers to understand why certain young adults in the area of New Zealand fancy the concept of drinking and how it is defines their identity. It is shown that many young people are involved in “normalized practices around heaving drinking which is seen as enjoyable, involving fun, and being sociable. (Goodwin, I., Griffin, C., Lyons, A., Mccreanor, T., & Barnes, H. M, 2016, p.1)

The researchers try to find understanding of why young people regularly share stories and photos depicting the action of drinking on social networking sites. This phenomenon will concentrate on two factors: the architecture and affordances of Facebook because it most used by the various groups participating in the study. The study will consist of 24 groups divided up between 3 to 7 friends. Participants in the study were going to have various discussions amongst their peers and have certain research objectives in which they will follow. The participants in total for this study consisted of 105 participants between the age of 18 and 28 years old. The group was made up of 61% of females and 39% of male that were of different ethnicities and backgrounds. (Goodwin et. al, 2016, p.1)

The first group of 12 consisted mostly of Pakeha participants while the other group of 12 was mostly Maori participants; which are both different types of people in the area of New Zealand. The study was based on having discussions on various topics such as friendships, socializing, drinking behavior, and the use of social networking sites for posting photos of drinking and having a good time. The main reason behind this study is to understand why young adults post drinking photos and displaying themselves as “partiers.” Facebook is a SNS (social networking site) that has become embedded in the everyday lives of young people in New Zealand. (Goodwin et. al, 2016, p.3)

The photos and posts are great way to illustrate people’s lives and what he or she does in a typical day. It also shows people the certain adventures and activities he or she may have been a part of. It is a great indicator on what that person enjoys spending their time on. “Photos are not simply beneficial because they provide a means for displaying one’s social life, for making it visible, but also because they simultaneously prompt recursively organized social interaction so that the end result is “you” all know what happened at the time” (Goodwin et. Al, 2016, p.4)

It shows that people post certain things on Facebook to build a certain image of who they are and hope that through the various photos and posts on their news feed it will build a sense of popularity and growth in the people they know outside of the social media world. It is a great way for young adults to tell a story about a certain situation that is going on in his or her life especially when people can see those stories in the here and now. Participants’ discussions highlight that “drinking photos are particularly effective at facilitating comments and posts, both in real-time and through leaving searchable and persistent traces of social interaction, asynchronously across time as narratives are stored, retrieved, and updated at will. (Goodwin et. Al, 2016, p.4)

Facebook has become a place for people around to the world to brand themselves and make an image of who he or she. It is demonstrated in this review that most of the people do this to brand an image of who they truly are or who they perceive themselves to be. The article defines it as people “amping up” their popularity over the web using techniques like video, blogs, and social networking sites. (Goodwin et al., 2016, p.5)

This is why people tend to like photos with groups of friends because it shows they are popular and have the time to mingle with a bunch of friends or groups of people. As they build this image, people also have to take into consideration other people in the photos by making sure they do not embarrass or cause harm to their lives. It is said that posts are put into groups that are considered “good and bad” and that through this friendships are tested to make sure that each individual person is trustworthy enough to hold a positive self-image of the people in the so-called “group” (Goodwin et. Al, 2016, p.6).

It is also seen that people who take time into these activities will place themselves in that type of environment like a club or bar. The study goes on to see why students put themselves in a situation that incorporates drinking and having a good time. It is seen that students and young adults go to nightclubs can experience more of a problem rather than enjoyment. “The use of Facebook and media during this event can cause a sense of unwanted exposure. Nightlife photography is seen as burdensome. Facebook facilitated drinking displays lose their sense of precarious duality, coming primarily associated with risk rather than both risk and opportunity for “amplified” socializing.” (Goodwin et. Al, 2016, p.8) Ultimately, this shows that people are concerned about the usage of media and how it will impact their image and or their friend’s images.

In conclusion, the study looked into various scenarios and experiments as to why young people feel the need to display photos that show them partying or drinking. The study has come to the conclusion that young people post about the drinking culture based on the areas surrounding them and the image people put on in different social events. It shows that a drinking photo is an accessible and pleasurable means for young people to use the concept of popularity to develop a sense of self-worth and image in his or her life. In the end, it can cause a sense of harm or happiness depending on the circumstance.


Goodwin, I., Griffin, C., Lyons, A., Mccreanor, T., & Barnes, H. M. (2016). Precarious

Popularity: Facebook Drinking Photos, the Attention Economy, and the Regime

of the Branded Self. Social Media Society, 2(1). Retrieved March 16, 2016.





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