Social media and the feeling of being obliged: Aesthetics of consent-deception and the crisis of trust

Cefai, Sarah. 2022. 'Social media and the feeling of being obliged: Aesthetics of consent-deception and the crisis of trust'. In: School of the Arts and Media Seminar Series 2022. University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia 29 July 2022. [Conference or Workshop Item]

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Abstract or Description

Social media provide a powerful vernacular precisely because of the ways in which they are ‘caught up within already existing relations of power, domination, and exploitation within culture and the broader society’ (Flisfeder 2021: 8). This paper asks what happens to the feeling of being obliged in the context of social media, understood less as a delimited media environment and more as a conjunctural account of how power, media and culture interact. Taking “consent culture” as a case-study of social media with which to think through the aesthetics of obligation, the paper provokes us to think more about the continuity between consent and deception, a term customarily implied in discussions of “post-truth” media. The paper shows how the aesthetics of consent culture address themselves to those of obligation, as a promise of self-determination that makes sense of the feeling of being obliged. However, the possibilities for social transformation represented by this new sensory perception of obligation are undercut by social media’s ‘hyper-aesthetics’ (Fuller and Weizman 2021). Such a provocation thus invites us to eschew convoluted questions of truth (now impossible to understand solely through the critical epistemologies of feminism) in favour of thinking through trust as an affective and social entity that is key to reclaiming the liberatory potential of social media.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies


29 July 2022Completed

Event Location:

University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

Date range:

29 July 2022

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

21 Nov 2022 09:38

Last Modified:

21 Nov 2022 09:38


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