I found the article called, “Look at Us”, to be very insightful in regard to the formulation of an online identity through the use of photographs. I found it very interesting to read their take on how personal photography has begun to hold more meaning than simply capturing the moment. Personally, I agree that there is a wide spread sense of narcissism when it comes to the ritual of taking pictures of social events and posting them to social media. While the traditional idea of capturing a moment so it may not be so easily forgotten is still present, there definitely seems to be a larger emphasis on strategic presentation. In my own experiences, individuals, especially after college, seem to want to display themselves in a way that eludes to how much fun they are having with life.
I can understand this feeling as the events of an individual’s life after high school become more elusive the moment people move away and gain new friends. No one wants others to know they are struggling and these social media sites have afforded individuals the capabilities to completely overlook such feelings or circumstances. Creating an ideal visualization of an event or state of being has become the norm and I feel that it takes away from the event or person as a whole. Instead of enjoying the moment and taking pictures for each other, it has become taking pictures for Instagram or Facebook so all of their followers can see as well. In my own observations, it has really become somewhat of a contest. While I’m sure there is a wish to remember a moment, it always feels as though the underlying tone has become more about who has the best “outfit” or who’s going to the best location or who’s the “wildest”, rather than keeping a record of enjoyment. I’ve had girl friends who all pose together in order to display their outfits, post the picture to Instagram, and then proceed to display envy or jealousy towards other girls who have done the same.
While I find such narcissistic behavior to be unnecessary I do agree with the article’s explanation for it. The statement is as follows, “While narcissistic behavior may be structured around the self, it is not motivated by self-desire, but by a desire to better connect the self to society (Mendelson & Papacharissi).” I feel this gives solid insight into the potential underlying reasons for these actions. Obviously there is a longstanding cultural idea that college is the best time of your life and so social media has created a platform for individuals to prove that it actual is. Yet for those who may not actually be enjoying their time at school, there may now also be a pressure to still make it look like they’re thrilled, in order to fit in with the rest of society. Fortunately, regardless of the underlying reasons such photos are being taken, in the long run the photo will hold sentimental value to those involved.
On a side note, I wanted to include an article/album of photos of actor John Schneider (Dukes of Hazzard, Clark Kent’s father in Smallville). Schneider had been taking media photos for a new show he is in and afterwards asked the photographer to stay and take a couple portraits of him. The photographer quickly realized that these photos were much more personal, and was soon told that John’s father had passed away during the initial photo shoot. John Schneider requested to have his grief photographed and agreed to have the photos posted online. I felt that this was a very interesting contrast to the idealized online self that the article discussed, and very humbling way to communicate that everyone has their own demons no matter what you might see on TV or online.
Mendelson, A. L., & Papacharissi, Z. (2011). Look at us: Collective narcissism in college student facebook photo galleries. A Networked Self: Identity, Community and a Culture on Social Network Sites,