The word of 2013 is “Selfie”. I’m not sure how I feel about this. A part of me wants to embrace our fast-paced and ever evolving generation and world, but another part of me misses eras I never got to experience and times when the world seemed so much more artistic, cultured, and beautiful (and set in Paris).
The rise of selfies is relatively recent. The first recorded selfie hashtag on Instagram was in 2011. Of course, people have been taking selfies for quite some time now in the States but it’s recently become a phenomenon as social networking sites have continued to grow. It’s clear that because of this, the way we interact has changed. You can tell if you’ve been hanging out with someone IRL if they are regular “likers” on your Instagram or Facebook statuses. When their “likes” wane, and ultimately disappear altogether, you know that your friendship has truly suffered a falling out. “I saw your selfie in that new exhibit this weekend. And you didn’t answer my texts all weekend. Cool.” *Unfollow* Once you hit that defriend or unfollow button, there’s no going back. It’s a passive aggressive slap in the face, and somehow the sting lasts much longer.
It’s interesting to see the rise of the selfie and #foodstagrams happen here in the States when in Asian countries, they have been around since I was in elementary and middle school and probably earlier. (Asians: We Selfied Before It Was Cool #aznhipster) There were online forums where you could post your picture and the more pages of comments on your selfie page you got, you felt like somewhat of a Korean pop star. Winning online competitions for having the “best face” was an actual thing. God knows somewhere on the interwebs, when I inevitably become rich and famous (not), my scandal and downfall will be when people dig up my old forum posts with a bunch of my selfies from when I was aged 13 to 17. (Please don’t Google. Please, have mercy on me.)
A lot of things have changed since I was a tween but the sentiment that has not changed and unites us is our desire to feel connected with people. Because after all, hasn’t the development of social media made it so much easier to keep in touch with and connect with people? We’re social beings. And yes, the quality of it is questionable – I will be the first person to admit that I have a love/hate relationship with the whole thing – but there’s something significant in the fact that our generation is so eager to be connected and share. And this is a sentiment that, I believe, transcends our time. Humans have been eager to feel connected all throughout history through all sorts of mediums and it’s what ultimately bridges us together. We should be celebrating that we went from letters, to the telegram, to the telephone, to video calls, and now, to snapchats. For all the bad rap that our generation gets for being vain, humblebragging, and oversharing, I still think that there’s beauty in our generation. As long as we accept that we do these things not just for ourselves but partially for yes, outside affirmations, and as long as we are self-aware (and not obnoxious), I think that one day in the far future, a 20-something will look at our time and find it seemed so much more artistic, cultured, and beautiful then. It’s all about finding that balance.
I recently went to the Van Gogh exhibit that opened in DC and looking around at all the beautiful paintings, I couldn’t help but muse at the fact that he just might’ve fit in with us millennials.
This post originally appeared at Revoir.