A Narcissistic, Notification Checking Generation?
It is no secret that we all love the Internet. With nearly 2 billion people online we are bound to see the effects of obsessive Internet use. Where would we be without Google? What would our degrees be without Wikipedia? Sure, it has countless positive effects and is an aid in our everyday life, but we can’t ignore the fact that the Internet is turning us into a generation which is constantly managing their social and work lives online.
Let us consider the most common act we associate with being online: communication. Interaction that takes place online enables people to go beyond the boundaries of what they would normally do face to face. It is easier to approach and communicate, the initial barrier of talking to someone for the first time is removed and there is a block button for an easy escape. However, when this online presence is extended, the ability of anyone to get in contact with us, to have access to our pictures or works, can have a negative effect. As dramatic as it may sound people do get stalked and cyber-bullied. Accounts get hacked as popularity grows. Is the risk of getting online and documenting ourselves worth it?
For us to really appreciate the magnitude of the effect of our online presence, we can witness the links it has commercially, particularly through advertising. Log on to Facebook and you see a friend has liked Coca-cola – you happen to as well and want others to know you like it. So you ‘like’ it. Your other friends see it and do this too, so on and so forth. A domino effect occurs and soon enough 35 million people like it. Now every time you log on, you see a little coke advert on the right-hand side of the page. The guys at Coca-cola are happy because we’ve just been advertised to without even being fully aware of it. Our impulsive nature to show everyone our interests for whatever reasons is an easy way in for advertisers. But it’s too late to complain, we were the ones that signed up to it.
Our online presence ties in with self-distribution. The issue lies with whether people understand the difference between self-promotion (where people are putting themselves online for a purpose) and self-obsession (where people are putting themselves online for attention). The amount of noise on the Internet allows people who have a business start up idea, or freelancers who need to promote themselves for professional reasons, to do so; to a mass of investors, viewers and potential employers.
These are just a handful of who and what is available out there if you want to ‘distribute’ yourself. The desire to do this may not only be due to financial reasons but purely for the enjoyment of having people across the globe viewing and admiring your work or discussing and sharing ideas. Credit needs to go where it’s due. Without online media and networking, opportunities for these types of people would be extremely limited and difficult. We can’t deny the fact that it’s just so easy. Letting people know where you’ve been and what you’re doing can be done in an instant and it beats individually texting or emailing all the time. But I think we can draw the line with sites like Dailybooth.com where people take photos of themselves every day. Do we really need this?
Let me pose some questions to you all which I hope will make you consider the wider view of all this. Have we always been so narcissistic? Or has the Internet normalized such behaviour? With so many ways of being a part of the online community and making oneself heard it begs the question: why is it so popular? Of course, it allows for individuality and freedom of expression. But more often than not it becomes excessive. We’ve become overfamiliar with sharing every little detail of our lives, assuming everyone wants to see an instagrammed picture of our dinners and stare at our nonchalantly posed pictures.
I don’t want to believe that we are all attention seekers; perhaps in a more ideal world we would be interacting like this to seek meaning and improvement of ourselves. But in reality it boils down to this: we have a need to let others know how fantastic our lives are and how much fun we’re having. We seek validation from our peers and I see our excessive online presence as one of the ways we try to achieve that. It’s a known fact – as humans, every one of us (whether we like to admit it or not) wants to be liked. We all aspire to be popular. And with the help of the Internet, anyone and everyone can become – a micro celebrity.