For this project I’ve opted to create a typology in a documentary style, influenced by the work of Doug DuBois. The chosen subject matter is internet dating, specifically focusing on transgender encounters with men online.
The concept came about via a good friend who had mentioned on a few occasions about the number of the messages that pop up in her inbox via online dating/social apps. I came to realise how the vast majority of these messages shun any sense of social norm that we abide by in the real world. Why is it that some men behave the way they do when communicating via the digital space? Is it the safety of being anonymous or the protection offered by the physical absence/distance of the recipient?
To help complement the project and to put some further context around online behaviours, I created a survey which collected a small but reasonable number of responses. The purpose of this survey was to try and get a better understanding of how widespread some behaviours are in the digital space.
My interpretation of the data is that women appear to have a much higher instance of negative experiences than their male counterparts. For example, I asked if people ever felt pressured to do/say or share something online that they didn’t want to despite saying no. Out of the males that responded, 77% of them said no, whereas the female responses showed the complete opposite with around 72% expressing they had experienced this form of pressure.
Some of the free text responses from both genders also revealed some of the more extreme experiences. They included threats of rape, murder and persistent online harassment despite attempts to block an individual. Again, the more alarming and threatening were received by women.
While all these things unfortunately happen in the real world, I think it’s fair to say that the internet has made it far too easy for individuals to conduct themselves in unacceptable ways without much fear of reprisal. Especially in a globally connected world where someone sending offensive messages are thousands of miles away.
What I've tried to capture in this series are some humorous reactions to the messages Jess received. Her off the cuff comebacks are pure genius! In a number of images I've tried to complement these comebacks with staged scenes, interlinking with the dialogue. I also never show Jess's identity in any of the images, this was to play on the 'anonymity' that the internet can provide.
During editing I took a very different approach to how I normally style my images in that I wanted to take in influences from the work of Doug DuBois. It was actually his own series of images 'All the days and nights' which inspired this particular project. Typically when we think of typology it's the work of the Berchers that springs to mind. However, I found Doug's approach to typology much more interesting.
You can find the high res versions of 'Typologies: Jess's Memories' on my Flickr by click here. And for those that are interested in the responses to the survey you can find them below: