Moonwalking together: Tracing Redditors’ digital memory work on Michael Jackson

Rik Smit, Marc Esteve Del Valle*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    This article investigates the memory work concerning Michael Jackson on Reddit. By means of their posts, comments, and replies, people contributing to this site – Redditors – enter into a process we call mnemonic stabilization. This is a collaborative process in which networked individuals share their memories about, in this case, Michael Jackson. We argue that this process resembles Jackson’s dance technique called moonwalking: Redditors seem to go back in time, but they continually alter how Jackson is remembered and forgotten, depending on the (personal) context of the present and an imagined future. These theoretical observations are assessed empirically by a content analysis of comments and replies (N = 917) posted on the subreddit /r/MichaelJackson between June 25, 2009, and December 31, 2018. This revealed that most posts with a mnemonic dimension focus on personal memories of Michael Jackson’s music, performances, and (perceived) positive characteristics, rather than on how he should be remembered. These findings can be partially explained by Reddit’s socio-technical infrastructure.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages22
    Journal Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25-Mar-2021

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