I respect the artistic intent, however this type of mindset among young social media users that we must manufacture a beautiful, dramatic, and sexually appealing moment all for the sake of a photograph and an acceptable amount of likes, is one that I feel does not accurately represent and respect our existence as human beings. This behavior simply fails to acknowledge who we actually are in our everyday lives.
Why are there hundreds of thousands of pictures hash-tagged “#provocative” for no other purpose than the simple viewing pleasure of the entire world? These people, whether clothed in bikinis, lingerie, a revealing outfit, or even just posed suggestively, are consistently undermining their value and worth as individuals by presenting themselves as eye candy rather than people with aspirations and intellectual capacity who deserve to be respected. And it is all in the name of something called “likes”. We are sacrificing our individuality and unique qualities for popular approval.
My question is, will pushing your chest out three inches to get ten extra likes make you feel more complete than the pride of knowing that you have preserved your respect for yourself? There is not a required pose for selfies, no one way to make a selfie “successful” after it is uploaded, but rather an infinite number of possibilities available to share yourself, in all of your beauty and dignity, with the world that does not involve objectification.
In addition to the self-depreciation that arises from the sexualized photographs, we are also undermining our existence by pretending to have special moments for the sole purpose of taking a picture. The opposite is what originally took place. People used to take pictures because something special, interesting, or admirable happened. Now people make moments because they want to take pictures. The occasional artful picture is always fun to see, but then I think about how our children, when we come to that point in our lives, would think of us if they only had these fake moments preserved forever electronically to understand how we once were and where we came from. The answer? They would see someone else entirely.
While speaking on this subject of the discrepancies between our internet and real life personalities, columnist Mark Byrne, while referring to himself, states “I can tell you who Instagram Mark is. Instagram Mark is a man who lives on espresso and aged Manchego and spends more time with his feet dangling into pools than he does working. (Does he even have a job?) He’s never eaten fast food, and his apartment is always crowded with friends. Truth be told, Instagram Mark is kind of an overcompensating jerk.” Hardly reality, and hardly what you want to be remembered as.
When all is said and done, we are each the sole determinant of how we come across to others. Regardless of if we choose to portray ourselves with another identity, as promiscuous, down to earth, fake, real, sexualized, or beautiful, we must realize that this is how people will begin to view us and be prepared to be treated as such. Likes do not determine our self-worth, but rather our devotion to remaining genuine and respectful to ourselves. Share what you’re proud of, but with an approach in the name of self-respect and class, because what is classier than #you?