Friday, 7 August 2015

My New Love: WeHeartIt

I blogged previously about visual consumption and my love affair with Tumblr ( Well, this summer I have a new love – WeHeartIt ( I love the wide variety of images that Tumblr brings directly to my laptop and it has been fun ‘curating’ my own Tumblr feed around various themes. But although Tumblr provides an ‘archive’ feature, it doesn’t really let me sort and store images the way I want to. Enter WeHeartIt.

I am definitely *not* the typical WeHeartIt community member – I might be female but it’s been quite a while since I could put a check mark beside the 17 to 25 years age bracket. I’m not into nail art or One Direction. But I do love having the capability that WeHeartIt offers to sort and store images in ‘collections’ of my own making. And it is really amazing how supportive the community is – in less than 2 months I have almost 1200 followers who regularly ‘heart’ the images I post to my ‘canvas’ (WeHeartIt talk for my ‘news feed’).

Clicking back through some of my image collections has reminded me of how powerful images can be. Although they are visual in nature, and thus only really perceived via one human sense, they can trigger scent memory. Can you smell the cinnamon and raisins in the apple crisp?

How about the scent of leaves that have fallen in autumn? As I'm writing this, 483 people have already hearted this image - there are lots of autumn lovers out there!

Images can also make us recall feeling warm or cold. Check out the difference between the images below:

They are both just photographic images of doors, but the first one makes me feel cold, while the second one makes me think of warm, sunny days. I find it strange that the 'cold' image has been hearted 32 times, while the warm image has only been hearted twice. Obviously there is a lot more going on when people view images than just the sense of 'feeling good' - an important reminder for all marketers.

Concordia University Anthropology professor David Howes (2005, p. 286), building on the insights of Oliver Wendell Holmes, argues that the photographic reproduction of items in our everyday world is a act of ‘active appropriation’ and further, that the photographic image can actually become more powerful and influential than the object itself. I think the popularity of sites like Tumblr, Pinterest and WeHeartIt is proof of Dr. Howes’s argument. And from a consumer behaviour perspective, these are also sites of productive consumption. As I browse images posted by others, I can 'heart' or favorite them and make them part of my own canvas, collect them according to themes that mean something to me all the while making them available for consumption and enjoyment by others.


Howes, David. 2005. "Hyperesthesia, or, The Sensual Logic of Late Capitalism,." In Empire of the Senses: The Sensual Culture Reader, ed. David Howes, 281-303. Oxford and New York: Berg.

No comments:

Post a Comment