“It’s about finding and knowing myself”: Why Johannesburg-based South African Millennials consume self-help media
Using semi-structured, in-depth interviews with a group of ten middle-class, internet-connected, South African millennials in Johannesburg, Gauteng this analysis explores the psychosocial gratifications derived from their self-declared active sourcing and consumption of self-help media texts. Developing within the uses and gratifications theoretical framework, the article finds that self-help media texts (books, blogs, videos, etc., significantly sourced from digital platforms via the internet) are sought as tools that offer a psychological “quick fix” to the day-to-day psychosocial “problems” that push the interviewed participants to seek coping mechanisms. The article presents evidence to demonstrate that self-help media texts are consumed by the interviewees to gratify a psychosocial need for self-knowledge where they engage self-help media texts as surveillance mediums on which they rely to better “find” and “know” themselves in relation to others, as far as socially “acceptable” interpersonal behaviour is concerned. As such, these Johannesburg-based South African millennials consume self-help media texts, and the moral grammar of norms, beliefs, and values about successful living encoded therein, as tools for self-management with the goal of “mastering” the self – in relation to others – to understand how best to behave to avoid the “mistakes” that impede the smooth-sailing of what these participants describe as their life journeys.
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