You’re probably wondering what you’re doing here? Never fear, I thought the same when I stumbled upon this topic several weeks ago. It still baffles me to this day. Undertaking Nicola Evans’ BCM312 class this semester, Emerging Issues in Media and Communication, I was faced with a research task and the freedom to find a topic I was interested in.
I never expected the inspiration to strike from my twenty-something housemates and friends. You see, I had been moderately aware of this odd activity they participated in, and as much as it made my gut turn, I always found the notion fascinating. They would search for traumatic and often gory images of injuries and surgeries on the Internet, sometimes just to look and also to share with others – more on that momentarily. I had many questions on the topic, as I am sure you do too. And so, this project was born.
After pitching the topic to the class and submitting a research proposal, I finally could refine the area I wished to delve into; ‘what are the motivations behind the consumption of traumatic injury images on social media, and what concerns should be considered with the sharing of said content?’
Now, let me break that one down. As pitched in my project proposal: “I define motivations in this instance as intentions and purpose, consumption as seeking, stumbling upon, or viewing online, and traumatic injury images as gruesome and gory intra-surgery and post-accident injury photographs. I have restricted my research to Instagram as a social media platform in order to improve quality of findings as it has the highest engagement in this particular market. Part of my hypothesis speculates that the results will show concerns related to patient confidentiality and privacy, effects of exposure to upsetting imagery, and appropriateness of the particular platform in question in relation to the contents intended purpose.” (Muller, 2018) [And here I was, thinking I would never have to reference myself]
I will go on to present my findings over a series of blog posts that you can find on www.claudialouisemuller.com as a four-part series. Now that you are nearly at the end of part one, a brief introduction and enquiry into the matter, Part Two will detail the motivations discovered in reference to consumption, and I will share with you some thoughts of the consumers themselves who I was fortunate to sit down with. Part Three will consider the concerns that arise and analyse the curation and creation of several accounts who engage in the market on Instagram and will case alternative platform Figure 1. In Part Four you will find several drawn conclusions and speculations on the topic, including afterthoughts and some reflection on the matter.
*I also would like to disclose that I will not be including many, if at all, of the traumatic images I am researching due to their potentially triggering nature. To search for images of the likes, start with @trauma_time on Instagram and you are sure to find yourself down the rabbit hole.*
The reason for this research? Sheer curiosity – something that has stayed with me since the dawn of this educational pursuit. It is an area of great interest to me that also lacks adequate information and research available to the public. In my preliminary search for more information I found little to no research accessible to me, and so I am invested in unveiling more and publishing it here, on my blog, to perhaps stimulate thought from some of my readers.
Were you aware of this gory trend online? Leave a comment below, let’s get talking.
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- Muller, C. (2018). Research Proposal BCM312 Traumatic Injury Image Consumption. Sydney, pp. 1.