You can’t live with them; you can’t live without them.
As the turn of the year, 2000 marked their arrival as the dominant generation on this planet with their exclusive ‘’Breakfast’’ club surpassing 1.8 billion people today, millennials’ creativity and inventiveness have become omnipresent and crucial, some might claim, for the progress and development of mostly all spheres of human existence.
The generation that currently represents the strongest sector of the job market and the world’s most powerful consumers has been praised by some while loathed by others for its mischievous ways of leaving a mark on society.
The ‘’spoiled’’ yet rebellious generation of nostalgia obsessed, avocado toast ambassadors and Netflix lovers is often maligned for living a privileged and sheltered life, or lacking resilience due to one too many participation trophies. However, twenty-and-thirty-somethings are fast reshaping the economy, especially in areas around digital marketing technology.
As the generation that came of age in the smartphone era, millennials take credit not only for developing new industries and boosting economies but also inventing new ways of existing, without which our day to day life would be unimaginable. But can the generation, who brought us Facebook, Tinder, Uber, Airbnb, Venmo, Spotify, Twitter, Instagram and social activism in the unprecedented number of waves, be also crowned as sovereign for bringing forth the most peculiar phenomenon that changed the digital industry?
In an era of social media, likes and comments, one may wonder, what came first the millennial or the selfie?
From Self to Selfie
The elusive selfie.
A concept that shifted the retail, cosmetics, and marketing industries and shook an entire civilization to its core by becoming the most relevant and posted content for a decade, is having a sort of a birthday party today.
June 21, or as influencers and Instagram aficionados around the world know it as national selfie day, sparks a lot of questions about the phenomenon of the selfie. Approximately 93 million selfies are posted on Instagram daily, or 10 selfies every 10 seconds to be more precise. In Baby Boomer Generation words: over 2,583,333 rolls of film that would be used daily for the purpose of a self-taken photo.
And although Oxford Dictionary added the word ‘’selfie’ ’in their dictionary in 2013, and named it word of the year, much to the disbelief of millennials and their arch enemies ( and most parents) Gen X, the selfie was invented long before millennials became a factor of any relevance on Earth.
The first-ever ‘selfie’ was taken in 1839.
While not termed as such then, the self-portrait was taken by Robert Cornelius, an amateur chemist and photography enthusiast, in Philadelphia. Cornelius took a picture of himself in the back of his family’s chandelier store. He set up the camera and then ran into the frame for the picture, thus having clicked the first-ever ‘selfie’
But how did the first-ever taken selfie differ from the selfie industry today?
And have we fallen deep down the selfie rabbit hole, by letting the concept of displaying an image of one ‘’self’’ destroy our ’’self’’. From selfie sticks to lip kits, cosmetic surgeries and photo booths, the selfie became a multibillion-dollar industry, on Instagram alone.
But what exactly goes into creating a selfie, and have our distortion of privacy and public display of our exteriors cost us our ‘’self’’ health and sanity?
Friend or Foe
Taking photos is not a new notion. For centuries people have documented monumental moments of their lives by capturing them into photographs.
However, the advancements in digital technology have allowed our generations to take and delete images anywhere, any time; making them ubiquitous and fluid.
The proliferation of selfies came under the pretext that they help us better connect with others and promote our ‘’ self’’ our brand and our beliefs, so much that it has made us self(ie)obsessed and self(ie)-conscious.
Some researchers claim that selfie-postings provide people with a channel to create and boost their self-esteem, which can support their happiness and physical attractiveness. While others argue that the true reason, we love selfies so much is because they help us manage others’ impressions of ourselves.
Selfies are not posted in isolation but often followed by feedback in the form of ‘’likes’’. The reception of ‘likes’ may be viewed as a cue of inclusion, improving self-esteem, while the absence of likes may be regarded a cue of rejection, negating self-esteem, which can then leave us more isolated and self-destructive.
In search of peer gratification and more ‘’likes’’ we have created a little white monster industry who eventually grew so much as to swallow us whole in an agony of unattainable standards of beauty and style.
But we still keep our engines running, and our heads held high, while we search for the perfect lighting for yet another daily #selfie
Felt Cute, Might Delete Later
The selfie phenomenon is transforming social culture. Selfies aid the opportunity for instant gratification in the form of, reposts, shares and likes, something which has only been made possible with the rise of social media.
As another day passes by with the selfie phenomenon still reigning over Instagram, so pass the trends of the ‘’ duck lips’’ ‘’tongue selfies’’ #nofilters, belfies, tbt’s, and ‘’felt cute might delete later’’ captions to give way to new better but more high maintenance selfie styles.
Perhaps one day the selfie like all obsessions will fade into oblivion, or perhaps we will be remembered as nothing more but the ‘’selfie’’ generation in years to come, while the likes of the Kylie Jenners and Kim Kardashians transform the billion-dollar Instagram selfie industry.
Nonetheless, for now, one thing remains unchanged, and that is the hope in each and every one of us for our selfie to go viral.