18 Feb. 2015
Any child born in the United States after the year 2000 and the invention of the first camera phone will never know life without constant access to communication and social media. As I reflect upon growing up in the 1990’s, I remember fondly how carefree life was without the pressure of posting. It was a completely different environment when I played with my neighborhood friends. We did not need constant verification that the activities we were doing were fun. We had no need to take pictures capturing our smiles and games in order to prove to others we had spent time together. Being photographed was reserved almost exclusively for special events like birthday parties or holidays. Then, in the early 2000’s, came the introduction of the first picture capable cell phones and the world of photography changed forever. From teenage girls taking “mirror selfies” with their girlfriends to guys taking drunk pictures of their bros, everyone suddenly had the capability of taking pictures of what they wanted, when they wanted. Thus beginning the earlier stages of online based social media like Myspace and msn messenger.
This drastic change and ever- evolving technology has pushed us to where we are today. We went from having pixilated small images from our flip phones that we posted on Myspace to high definition images we took on our brand new iPhone 6 for Instagram. The amount of pictures taken in one day is now larger than the amount of pictures taken throughout the entirety of photographic history; we have become obsessed. It seems to me that this obsession has led to a new trend of photo verification. What I mean by photo verification is the obsessive need, as a member of the modern era, to constantly post, update and verify the moments we are living by the number of likes or views we get. We measure our self-worth by the amount of likes on our Instagram photos, a new form of instant gratification and approval from our peers that we had not yet seen in history.
With this new world of social media we have created, we have managed to further integrate ourselves in the lives of our peers while simultaneously isolating ourselves from actual unadulterated face to face contact. The slogan “friend time, not phone time” is commonly used when hanging out with a large group of people due to the need to always have a phone at hand. In contrast to the unfiltered and disconnected friend time we would have had in 1998, we now have to convince or remind ourselves that what we are doing is “worth it.” With all this new access to information about what is going on around us, FOMO (fear of missing out) is now more real than ever and people need to justify the activities that they chose to take a part in with pictures and the likes that follow.
I would like to reference the popular YouTube video What’s on your mind? By Higtonbros1. It is a powerful demonstration of the problem with verifying fun on social media, and how we have become susceptible to lying to ourselves so we can validate our existence to others. The premise of the video is a man going through his Facebook page, seeing all the exciting stuff his friends are doing. He then starts posting exciting, carefully thought out pictures of what he is “doing” in order to get likes and have the gratification from people liking his images. The man is over embellishing his life in order to