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Savanna Parangan

TA: Matt Wilson


Writing 2
May 18, 2016
Bear Gets an Instagram
We are in the age of social media. Kids use it, teens use it, adults use it, and even some
older people use it. But whats the reasoning behind this? What makes the use of social media,
Instagram for instance, so widespread and popular? Psychological academic papers such as one
written by Pavica Sheldon and Katherine Bryant, Instagram: Motives for its use and relationship
to narcissism and contextual age, can easily inform readers on these topics. But, a satirical
seems-like-its-for-kids-but-its-actually-for-adults book can be both informational about
Instagram and psychology, and also jab at adults and make them rethink their attachment to
social media.
For this project, I translated a psychological research paper into a picture book for young
people. I turned a structured piece of academic writing, the article Instagram: Motives for its
use and relationship to narcissism and contextual age by Pavica Sheldon and Katherine Bryant,
into a story about Bear, a bear who has just created her own Instagram account. It may appear
that the book I wrote is intended for children, but that is not the case. I decided to make the
translation for adults but write it like a book for children to emphasize that my message is easy
enough for a child to understand. My target audience of Instagram-users is very different from
my primary sources intended audience, which is scholars in the psychology discourse
community. It is evident that the targeted audience was scholars because the paper was structured
like an academic research paper it had an abstract, methods section, and discussion section, and

it used psychological and mathematical terms that the normal person might not be familiar with,
such as eigenvalues and gratifications theory. I made my translation with the vision that it
could be found in stores that sold comedic items and could maybe be given as a gift to a friend
that spends a little too much time on their phone, or a friend that thinks that they are Instafamous.
I chose my genre, a picture book, because I thought it would be fun and a way to make
young people think about their Instagram and social media usage. I thought it would effectively
communicate with my audience because I used a lot of satire and mimicked some norms of
social media in a way that would make the reader think. I stuck to just the introduction and the
abstract for information to integrate into the new genre since the majority of the paper were
research methods and explanations that would not be easy for young adults and children to
understand. Also, incorporating too much information would ruin the feeling that the book is for
children. Although the book is intended for adults, I wanted to keep the structure and aesthetic of
a kids book. But, the information from the introduction and abstract was enough for the book
since the abstract contains the main points and outcomes of the experiment and the introduction
includes background information.
My translation was effective because I completely changed the tone and conventions of
the academic paper. For example, instead of saying that A survey of 239 college students
revealed that the main reasons for Instagram use are Surveillance/Knowledge about others,
Documentation, Coolness, and Creativity (Bryant and Sheldon paragraph 1) I said Bear
made an Instagram! Now what does Bear do with it? Bear sees what her friends are doing. Bear
keeps track of stuff she did. Bear shows her friends the cool stuff she does. Bear shows her
creative side. The tone is changed from academic and scholarly to the tone that someone would

use when telling a story to a young child. Also, the conventions are different. Instead of long
sentences, I changed to short, simple sentences with the same subject at the beginning of each.
Also, I changed all the words to words that are easily understandable for children.
This translation was not easy throughout the whole process. One of the longest parts was
figuring out how to translate this study investigates how participants life position indicators,
including life satisfaction, interpersonal relations, and social activity, and also the psychological
trait of narcissism, influence their use of Instagram (Bryant and Sheldon paragraph 3) into
something a child would understand. In order to accomplish this, I just had to think what each
element does for a person. So for example, for interpersonal relations I said It lets Bear
interact with others. Another challenge I had was not only translating into language a kid would
understand, but also relaying the same message and keeping the meaning for an older young
adult. When translating the psychological trait of narcissism I said It lets Bear see how great
she is but I felt like this would make someone who had not read the primary source think
confidence instead of narcissism. In order to fix this, I added a speech bubble that said My
Instagram is the best in the world! to show the fact that Bear was implying she thought she was
better than others.
One skill needed to perform this translation was being able to read an academic research
paper. It was necessary to realize that not the whole paper needed to be read in order to do
proceed with the translation. I understood that the abstract and the introduction had the main
outcomes and background of the research discussed in the paper, so I mainly focused on those
sections. While the other sections such as the methods give more insight and understanding on
the topic, I decided not to use them for my paper since they would not fit into a kids book. A big
concern for writing this paper was writing simply. It was a big change going from academic

writing to writing understandable for kids and simplicity was key. I exercised skills taught in
Simplicity by William Zinsser and stripped every sentence to its cleanest components then
converted these ideas into a simple story. Without this step, the book would not be
understandable to kids.
Another important skill and something I had to be conscious of while translating was
word choice. I had to choose words that were understandable for my audience while keeping the
original meeting of my academic source. My word choice also had to convey my personal
message to readers and in order to do that, I found it helpful to pair words with images. I kept in
mind the goal expressed for choice of word in Writing with Pictures by McCloud and
reminded myself to clearly and persuasively communicate ideas, voices, and sounds, in
seamless combination with images. I exercised this skill especially in the second half of my
book, which included text, an image, and speech bubbles. Not only did I use word choice to form
my message, I also had to use it to establish the audiences belief that the book is meant for
adults and not necessarily children. I did this in two different ways. In the first half of the book
where I discuss Instagram motives, I include pictures that look like Instagram posts and write my
own captions that only teens and adults that are frequent Instagram users would understand. For
example, when I talk about the motive of coolness I make an Instagram post about Bear
attending Cubchella since the music festival Coachella is frequently posted about. I also
include hashtags referring to selfie game and not wanting to leave; which are also very
common on Instagram among teens and adults. The second way was in the speech bubbles I
discussed earlier in the paragraph. For example, to demonstrate the life position indicator social
activity, I gave Bear a speech bubble saying I have 597 followers to imitate people who are
boisterous about their follower count. Another skill, which was probably one of the more fun

ones, was recognizing and creating a rhetoric situation. I recognized that the situation in my
primary source was to publish research and findings, and I had the chance to create my own
helping others be aware of their own Instagram habits and usage.
Translating an academic research paper into a seems-like-its-for-kids-but-its-actuallyfor-adults book was not only a fun process that allowed me to exercise creativity. It also allowed
me to exercise skills that I have learned about writing throughout the quarter such as analysis of
genre, convention, and tone, reading academic papers, concision, and identifying rhetoric
situations.
Sources Cited
McCloud, Scott. Writing with Pictures. n.p., n.d. Text. May 16, 2016.
Sheldon, Pavica X., and Katherine X. Bryant. "Instagram: Motives for Its Use and Relationship
to Narcissism and Contextual Age." Instagram: Motives for Its Use and Relationship to
Narcissism and Contextual Age. Elsevier, May 2016. Web. 16 May 2016.
Zinsser, William. "Simplicity." New York: Harper & Row, 1980. Web. May 16,
2016.