Shared Secret Places: Social Media and Affordances
The Social Media application Strava is used by exercisers to track running and cycling activities. Strava is carried with the exerciser and displays trophies and leaderboards to reward competitive performance. We were prompted by an auto-ethnographic account of Strava use to examine the way in which a particular stretch of running track around a lake showed up differently to the runner once Strava was integrated into their running practice. We look to Gibson’s relational notions of “affordances” and “niches” to understand this change in direct perception. We propose that these concepts have potential in helping us to research and understand the ways in which groups of Social Media users share and construct a similar experience of place in a way that is largely invisible to non-users. We consider some of the preliminary implications of this differentiated use of place and demonstrate the way in which a relational view of affordances helps us to make sense of this phenomenon.