Since the rise of the Smartphone and almost the invention of Social Media, people have been concern trolling the absolute fuck out of the use of either. There was a point between 2011 and 2015 where it seemed like almost weekly there was an article from some newspaper or magazine lamenting about how young people, Millennials, The Youths or whatever they called us, were spending too much time with our noses in our phones. They chided us for tweets and selfies and said that we knew nothing of the real world, only of the carefully curated digital ones we made for ourselves, yet didn’t see the irony of expressing these thoughts on their blogs.
Within the past few years (at least) there has been a pushback against this idea that Smartphones and Social Media are the End of Humanity. Many marginalized people have been able to use outlets like Twitter and Facebook to get the word out on Social (whodathunk?) issues that impact them. They’ve also been able to use it to build a broader community with people around the world and create a space where the intersections of race, gender identity, ability, sexuality, class et al can be heard. And the dreaded selfie? Has become a tool to highlight the beauty outside of the same Eurocentric standard.
And holy shit do I love the selfies.
I thirst follow people on Instagram constantly, because I genuinely love looking at people’s pictures of what they think is their best self. Instagram tends to be a very crafted photo space, where people get dressed up to look good in front of the camera. For me though, it doesn’t work that well. I’m a goofball who likes to take goofy pictures, so I would tend to take 100 photos intended for Instagram then delete them in short order because I thought they were awful. My selfies weren’t really meant for the Instagram world. At least not until I re-downloaded Snapchat.
For a long time I didn’t understand Snapchat. I’d downloaded it when it first came out, and used it to send pictures I’d doodled over my selfies to a few friends. Then they were hacked and to be safe rather than sorry I deleted my old account. Then, a few months ago one of my friends was sharing posts on Instagram of herself with a puppy face. About a week later all of my friends were sharing posts on Instagram with puppy faces.
When it finally dawned on me that people were using Snapchat I wrestled back and forth with the idea of downloading it again and when I finally gave in, I was amazed at all the new things Snapchat had added, and quickly fell in love with everyone’s My Story, specifically the videos people post when they’re just playing around with the filters and their faces. It’s like watching a baby learn something new, the way people look at themselves from one angle, then shift to another then another trying to find out what looks good to them as opposed to what looks good to someone else.
People talk a lot about how Social Media is exhibitionism in a negative way, and while yes some people and places on the internet are downright terrible, I like the fact with all of the perfectly curated accounts that exist, there are also people who are being candid. Eyes are the windows to the soul, a picture is worth a thousand words, so why isn’t a Snapchat potentially the greatest movie ever made? Why isn’t a twitter account the best novel ever written?
If nobody else will tell you this I will, keep taking pictures of yourself. Keep taking video of yourself looking adorable in Snapchat pictures. Keep using social media to make yourself feel beautiful because you are!