Imagine that; a crowd of roaring fans screaming louder and louder as the first few notes of Falling for You by The 1975 begin to play. Matt Healy’s silhouette makes its way out of the smokey shadows and to the forefront of the stage. Being that the song is an all-time favourite of mine alongside, the hundred of fans that filled the room, everyone whips out their phones, the flash on of course, ready to record the raw emotion and heartfelt lyrics the song encompassed. But instead of hearing Healy sing the first line of the opening verse, he takes the opportunity to speak to us of over the melody. “This song is a very personal one for me and although I’ve performed it dozens of times it still triggers a lot of feelings and memories. I’d really appreciate if instead of recording me on your phones, you guys just ride through this vulnerable experience with me” Healy contended as he sat on the edge of the stage, his mic in one hand and a bottle of wine in the other.
This obviously made all his female fans swoon with more screams and cheers but for me, it evoked a strange hint of guilt and intrigue (ok I also screamed out to him too, but just a little bit). There I was about to hear someone perform a song that clearly brought up both good and bad emotions and the first thing any of us could think to do was videotape it. Had we forgotten as fans that the songs we enjoyed finding comfort in, were actually still very personal experiences made by the songwriter? Were we so heavily conditioned by social media to always capture epic moments that we had completely detached ourselves from the authenticity of the what’s happening in front of the camera for the sake of likes and shares?
There’s no doubt the selfie epidemic hasn’t swept the nation, from Granny “Baddiewinkle” to whatever cat or toddler has become the meme of the week, we can’t help but capture all the funny, weird, beautiful, or awkward components of our everyday lives. The thing is, what’s to be said about a society that lives through and behind a lens?
Rather than enjoying a concert by our favourite band, most of us spend at least a 1.5 hours out of the whole 2-hour set, cramping our arms to get the perfect shot and videos to either watch later or post on social media. Rather than soaking up the sun and enjoying a nice cocktail on vacation, we’ve succumbed to getting all dolled up to take nice beach pictures and vacations vlogs of the oh-so sky blue water in the efforts of showcasing how much fun we’re having. Selfie culture’s become so ingrained in our minds that although we ourselves have spent 10-15 minutes editing a selfie for Instagram, we somehow have forgotten that all the internet personalities we idolize on social media have spent twice the amount of time doing so. This ends up causing a vicious cycle of both envying and trying to imitate the “perfect picture”.
However, on the other hand, some people would say selfie culture hasn’t been as digressive as most of us think. Professor and Program Director at Otis College of Arts and Design, Linda Hudson would beg to differ. She believes selfie culture isn’t really all that new, to begin with. In a TEDx Talk, she explained that the human brain has been wired since the early days of evolution to always be alert for spotting faces and so are we. Even when seeing a face in an inanimate object, we still get this sort of funny pleasure. She goes on to preach about prehistoric paintings of these early humans inside caves in Spain and believe that if they can manage to depict and capture their everyday lives and experiences through these mediums, then why can’t we? Selfie culture isn’t a new phenomenon whatsoever; it’s a simple depiction of the notion “I am here. This is me. This is what is important to me.” – a subliminal message that’s seen in both these paintings and the photos we share on social media.
The point is, selfie culture doesn’t need to be the centre of our attention unless we invite to. The ability to capture ourselves and our everyday lives through pictures is one of the greatest and most revolutionary advances technology has introduced. It’s made life all over the world, easier to attain through our visual sensory and imagination and there’s nothing wrong with that. Just a small tip, if you happen to take the scenic road less travelled, then stop and smell the roses. The opportunity to take a picture of them may arise way more often than you think.