“Never has a generation so diligently documented themselves accomplishing so little.”
I saw this post several years back and it stuck. One can’t miss its manifest prevalence on social websites and platforms. At times, we need not even go online; it’s played out right across the table (or at your own) as you dine out with family or friends in a restaurant. In morning walks along the boulevard, the novelty of anyone suddenly breaking into a groovy dance is long foregone; heck, even the nice lady who sweeps the sidewalk does it - dancing to the camera. People are not engaging with people; they talk to the camera or their phones.
The “Selfie” phenomenon
‘Selfie’ made it to Time’s top 10 buzzwords of 2012 and became Oxford English Dictionary’s ‘Word of the Year‘ in 2013, beating the close runner-up, “twerk”. I couldn’t resist sneaking that trivia in and leave you to your own takeaways on these insightful word choices. “Selfie” is said to be an Australian slang for self-photo snap, making its online debut in 2002 on an out-of-focus close up post of a man’s swollen lip after a drunken night out.
Selfies are often associated with narcissism and vanity but they do have beneficial value. It’s all about intent and impact that make them good or bad.
Photo Journal. Digital technology has removed practical constraints of self-documentation through photos anytime, anywhere. It has enabled us to capture and share not just our significant milestones and events but even the trivial details of our daily life. It could just be the outfit and look of the day, being in some place or with someone, or anything inconsequential that’s happening in the moment. Selfies can serve as a photo journal keeping track of one’s progression and journey through life, visual tools to help relive and look back on those moments in retrospect. On the flip side, self-documentation can distract you from fully experiencing the moment when you’re too invested in documenting instead of being present in it.
Living through filtered lens. Selfies can be a form of self-expression. It is empowering to be able to make a statement through your self-photos. It gives you control over the image you want people to see of yourself. For those too concerned with appearances, smartphones come loaded with features to ‘enhance’ your looks; else there are applications that take care of that as you please. How many times have you known people through their photos who don’t quite lived up to them in the flesh? Yes, authenticity can be compromised, not just by appearances but also by perception when selfies are posted through contrived and filtered lens.
I vlog “Me”
Video blogging is another phenomenon taking place on the You Tube platform. According to CfDS, data analyzed by Global Web Index show that two out of three Internet users (65%) have watched a vlog. You Tube, with 1.3 billion people using it, has successfully established a social media lifestyle and is potentially becoming a new source of creating and getting information. Many are turning to You Tube to vlog about themselves and their lives. Some have even quit their 9 to 5 jobs to go full-time in creating these contents.
The “Me” culture
Incontrovertibly, advancement in technology and the internet have laid the foundation for these phenomena to happen. Lawrence R. Samuel, Ph.D wrote an insightful piece about the rise of the “Me” generation noting in particular that, “this rise has run on a parallel course with a loss of faith and trust in large institutions…people all over the world rebuff external control in favor of sovereignty of the self.”
One can only speculate how the “me” culture will play out far into the future.