By the end of this section, you will be able to:
- Read for inquiry, learning, critical thinking, and communicating in various rhetorical contexts.
- Identify the elements of successful social media use.
Authenticity as Rhetoric
Despite Gomez’s success as a public figure, her relationship with social media has been rocky. Gomez describes her social media strategy as “intentional . . . I don’t take a lot of pointless pictures.” Gomez recognizes the power of her social media platform, and she has used it to champion the causes that she cares about. As a person diagnosed with both lupus (2015) and bipolar disorder (2018), Gomez has used social media to advocate for mental and physical health causes. (Lupus is an inflammatory disease caused by the immune system attacking its own tissue; bipolar disorder is characterized by extreme mood swings.) Gomez says, “Everything that I’m attached to has a charity aspect.” She continues, “If something good isn’t coming out of it, I’m not going to do it.” This “intentional,” open approach to her personal difficulties and her emphasis on building positivity out of struggle generates an intimacy with fans that has served to increase her following.
However, the most radical action that Gomez may have committed with regard to social media was her decision to quit it. Suffering from publicity overload, cyberbullying, and a negatively changing sense of self, Gomez handed over her Instagram account to her assistant in 2017. She has also handed her Instagram account over to people such as Georgia voting rights advocate Stacey Abrams (b. 1973) as part of the #ShareTheMicNow campaign, which amplifies the voices of Black women. Gomez deleted social media apps from her smartphone and gave up knowledge of her passwords. She claims that the move has been liberating: “I suddenly had to learn how to be with myself.” She reflects that there were 150 million people on her phone, and “I just put it down. . . . That was such a relief.”
Despite the shift in approach, Gomez’s relationship with social media remains strong. She actively cultivates a “deliberate . . . vulnerability” through her unwillingness to shy away from tough or important issues. Regardless of which of Gomez’s assistants hits the “post” button, Gomez’s focus on giving of herself to improve society resonates with her fans.