#21st century Narcissus garden
Back in the day, when painted portraits were on the cusp of extinction, selfies used to be an emerging art form for millennials. Now, the selfie culture’s merged into more of a syndrome to be treated.
Let’s take a step back. The purpose of a selfie is to undoubtedly collect applauses and praises whether for said beauty, humor or distinction. But what about now?
The more praise and attention you garner on your VR (virtual) identity, the higher the chances you start forgetting there’s others in the world. We become bubble wrapped in a disproportionate amount of self-importance and entitlement.
Let me just put it out there
Self-absorption kills empathy.
narcissism is “it’s all me”.
The problem is that lots of us are tuning into ourselves instead of others and paradoxically, that means we’re dimming our self awareness levels.
Most, not all, VR profiles are dedicated to sustaining one perfect red thread: fashion, art, beauty, i’m-rich blog, food and so on and so forth. And that’s fine. They all look great but the issue though is that we’re reducing ourselves to 2-D personalities instead of more complex 3D ones.
Now I’m not the only one that’s noticed that. While back in 2004-2006 a simple selfie and cool profile would have done the trick, now “the people want more”. So the newest trend I’ve discovered is the need to be artistic or “different”; to stand out. Have you ever accidentally stumbled upon a picture that is seemingly an innocent selfie but wait — it has some void writing on it like “you have to look through the rain to see the rainbow” or some other truism, or perhaps it’s aesthetically plastered on top of another completely unrelated photograph?
I’ve done it too (many times) and I wonder: why is this culture shift happening? Am I culturally programmed to do it?
Now I’m not condemning art or more artistic ways of self-promotion. Not at all. What I am questioning is empty VR “art” force fed as conceptual art. Why do we do it? Or maybe it’s not empty — maybe it’s simply a generational shift homogenized by globalization. If I’m self aware that I’m just posting something because it’s “pretty” and not for any deeper reason, then why do I do it? Why do I feel the need to plaster my face and clothes and x,y,z for others to see?
Is it due to a rise in perfectionism? — we have to be aesthetically perfect, intellectually perfect, creatively perfect; perfect employee; perfect candidate; perfect spouse; perfect student; perfect friend;
I feel like virtual perfectionism is pushing some of us to slowly try and morph into our own paintings, ready to be hung across museum walls for intense admiration and praise.
But when did this all start?
It’s very clear that between 1965 and 1985, the Western self changed. A culture changed.
Perfectionism took the stage.
In the 1980s, America saw the rise of the self-esteem movement which promoted self-love as being the key to making America competitive again. Ever since, the rise of narcissism has sky-rocketed while our souls crumbled. Neoliberalism has given birth to a new form of individualism.
Today’s culture of influencers, selfies, instagrammers and fetishization of entrepreneurs is all highly neoliberal. And yes this helped our economy and it promoted self-love innocently to begin with, but its evolution to a focus on the individual has proven to be toxic for our mental health and hearts.
Whether linkedin, insatgram, twitter, faceboom i mean, facebook, etc, perfectionism sadly rules. It’s the new norm. Humans want to get along and ahead and so they will become whoever they need to be in order to do so.
We’ve lost touch with reality, and ironically, with ourselves.
There’s a whole world beyond our profile.