While social media has gone from revolution starter to narcissism central, Anam Sufi argues that it's not such a bad thing, so long as we're honest about it...
There have been many articles tracing the pluses and deltas associated with social media. Facebook helped bring down Mubarak –Hurrah! Facebook helps us stay in touch –Hurrah! Facebook allows me to save on postage –Hurrah! Been there, done that, wrote the status. I don’t want to talk about the merits or pitfalls of the Internet, rather, I want to communicate some odd observations about it.
There’s a struggle at play on the internet; one that helps facilitate hedonism and vanity to reach intended audiences but that, on the flip side, is something we socially still bite our thumbs at. Why was Facebook so revolutionary on the individual level? It gave us answers without having to invest the effort of personal communication. “Oh, I find her pretty… maybe I should go for it… but I don’t know if she is single…” – Well now you do, sonny because Facebook told you so. But such itches were scratched at the grass-root level. Facebook was quick to explode into a canvas whereby people could express themselves. We are able to construct collages, decorated by an ornate collection of pixels that are literally manipulated by the tips of our fingers. Some might view this as a modern approach to constructing a self-portrait, one that fuses both visual and literary art together. Well, I am not “some.”
Terms such as “selfie” have burrowed their way into our common language due to their popularity amongst all people (yes, this absolutely includes me too). But I find it hilarious how instead of owning the fact that we are basking in the glory of our vanity by posting images of ourselves on the Internet, we try to maintain a demure approach under a shroud of varying excuses. My attention was bought to the matter the other day, when my friend and I were taking a selfie, but were suddenly embarrassed by another customer giving us the stink eye. That’s when we started discussing the peculiar way in which we try to separate and dichotomise ourselves into two worlds; the me in reality and the me in technology.
So then I began to think about all the excuses we use to justify this surge in hedonistic appreciation of the aesthetic self. There are so many of them, it almost competes with the spam mail of the 90s – you know, back when “email this to ten people or your lover will become sterile” was like being cursed by the Dali Lama. Evolution is a funny thing, today we have #100happydays and #5xinfinity and #ootd as thin veils that attempt to hide the reality that you are taking a picture of yourself, with the hopes of getting likes and the attention of your homies. I don’t have an issue with selfies, although I do believe there’s a time, place, and limit (quota) to be observed, but it does bother me when we try to mask it as being something other than what it is. I mean, “a rose by any other name,” right?
I think we should stop fooling ourselves in creating a matrix out of the Internet.
I think we should start a new revolution, one that uses the hashtag: #ithinkilookgoodsohereisaphotoofme or if you are too lazy, #owningit