The modern phenomenon of selfies and social media asphyxiation, why do we do it? Sometimes, like a scratch that needs to be itched, why is it so hard not to go at it, especially when we know it adds to the bloody mess of vanity and narcissism that millennial's are blamed and shamed with? Even for the most down to earth, woke, anti-establishment, anti-social media mobs-men among us, why is the phenomenon of taking and disseminating pictures of ourselves so damn inevitable and insatiable? Obviously, I am slightly saddened by the self-glorifying and vanity inducing act of selfie taking, whether it be butt selfies, pretend ‘accidental’ selfies or even those boyfriends whose job it is to take non-selfie selfies- and yet still, you visit my social media and you will not only make me eat my words but put ketchup on them, make me digest every last one of them before excreting them out right in front of you.
And although it is quite clear to assess with a fair degree of certainty my disdain towards the whole thing, I have cordially and regrettably surrendered to the gods of social media and the vanity that is inherent in the kind of job I do. And I now play the game with as much commitment and ruthlessness as Lionel Messi in…. who am I kidding I don’t know anything about football. Today, I spent my Saturday not helping the homeless in a soup kitchen luncheon, not with my friends, not reading Dostoevsky, not even Pinterest'ing my future dog, but standing in front of a camera for photos that, yes of course will be sent to my agents (who by the way represent me as a DANCER), but at the end of the day be found on my social media platforms as I flaunt my airs and graces for the world to see, and yes, of course admire with great awe and wonder ‘how does she do it?’ She does it with a tonne of makeup, too much hair volumizer, lighting, camera angles, photo shop and two minds with enough knowledge and experience in angles, photography and human movement capable of turning a dog's hind leg into Picasso, Seth Rogan into Heidi Klum.
We live in an age of unprecedented self-glorification and self-congratulation; not all of which is bad. First of all, self-confidence, to which the art form of selfies in part encapsulates, is a wonderful bi-product of individualistic self-actualisation that this generation can so easily glean off. We live in a time where one can ignore what your teacher or your dad said to you, that you wouldn’t amount to anything. Your worth is an internal organ situated at the heart of 'got no time for the haters', my existence is my worth. Period. Point Blank. Full stop. And then to which social media waltzes in to light a match, asking you to materialise your voice to the rest of the world. It then easily becomes the most convenient avenue to define and delineate oneself in a highly constructed hyper-reality, for both friends and strangers to behold and be participant in. We fashion who we are on social media, what we want to be seen as, in all our beautiful holiday spot, fancy lunch date, cute dog or hot bod edited glory.
However, there are those pesky psychological effects other generations have not had to deal with nearly as much. These are outlined clearly by various psychological and sociological studies, and to which we become increasingly aware of in our own day-to-day lived experiences. The comparison that is inherent in social media, the extreme self-love and, with that, its evil step-sister of extreme self-criticism, induced insecurity, or even self-hate, comes as a package deal with the socialisation of technology today. However social media is the social renaissance of the day. Social capital and overall status is easily measured and judged here. Self-glorification is then all too comfortably bundled into this box of modern day clandestine addiction. The balancing act between self-love and self-hate, states of personal (in)security expressed so clearly over social media, is a tricky one to which unabashed honesty is the greatest stabiliser.
In all honesty, I am also addicted to an extent, to the attention and processes of personal branding typical of our generation’s technological self-expression to place me squarely within the category of millennial Narcissism. The irony of this situation is what makes it interesting: that contradiction between the pressure we feel to look and behave and project a certain way- and yet to be proud of ourselves regardless of the ideas or judgements of others. To then measure up to oversaturated ideas of femininity and masculinity- and yet recast the boundaries and place ourselves above it all. The bizarre social contract to present a socially acceptable version of oneself, and yet to have complete control and decision making over who we get to be in this world and what we what to represent and influence, is something we have to continue to be aware of on a day to day basis.