Self-indulgence is often a touchy topic to pick at, but the level of narcissism social media and technology have surrounded us with makes it a fact of life in modern day society.
When the first hand-held Motorola presented itself to the world, it only had one function: communication. The mobile phone has since evolved; from reliable Nokia to the Sony Ericsson, where additional attributes of the alarm clock and Snake had been added as features of practicality and entertainment.
Then the Samsung Sharp came along, the first ever phone with a built-in camera in 2000. The standard of camera has since progressed, as has the demand for not one camera, but two – which poses the question: is there really a need for a camera on the front screen of smart phones?
Instagram. Facebook. Twitter. Snapchat. Tinder. We are all guilty of throwing up a snaky photo in the hope that it’ll get at least 11 likes, or that the classmate you kind of fancy will reply to your ‘generic’ Snapchat. Each of these social media forums offers a platform for users to approve of each other’s activity online, most notably the praise of our personal appearance. We are the selfie generation, the most self-indulged, self-consumed era of all time.
The selfie phenomenon has granted the people behind these Apps a generous profit thanks to the thirst we exhibit by posting pictures online in anticipation of a confidence boost or a cheeky swipe right. Living in a secular age, we appear to have found a new figure to worship: ourselves. Thinking about it, there is no real need for phones to have two cameras on them, only to check our faces out throughout the day or take a quick selfie before heading to Havanas.
Each individual has become a personal brand, with Kylie Jenner being the number one role model for self branding through sheer vanity, ingenious marketing and an endless stream of photos of her OOTD to share with her 42 million followers. Everyone from models to sports stars to everyday civilians attempt to create an online persona, manipulated and never fully truthful. While it is an amazing entity to be able to share parts of our lives that is accessible to our friends and family, the global village of the internet has inspired us to aspire to be a commodity.
Recently a famous “Instagram model” Essena O Neill decided to start a campaign titled letsbegamechangers.com.
The 19 year old Australian model revealed the truth behind her popular ‘candid’ photos, stating that she had branded herself and her body as a commodity for the App, received payment for advertising products from various companies on her account, and had become totally immersed in her online image that it had consumed her entirely.
With reactions of both disgust (from other social media stars) and praise (from her loyal band of followers and avid Instagram users), people were drawn to her honesty regardless, ironically resulting in the gain of several more thousand followers, consequently causing the deletion of her social media account While this consumption is not the case for all social media stars, it is evident that social media has catalyzed self(ie) awareness, as well as the constant longing for likes and comments about how great we look.