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31.1.07

self-absorption is the new black

warning: some of this may not make sense 'cos i'm still workin' it out.

on monday night i went out to dinner with a friend to her cousin's place - we had a great time, chatting, etc and during the course of the night, one of the gals got out her camera and took some shots while we were talking. it didn't bother me in the slightest and i think in one of them we all posed - nothing spectacular.

but therein lies two interesting thing for me about being part of the image-ready generation and that of the self-absorbed.

what I have to see

i remember the days when taking photos were a big deal. you all posed or, if you were super shy, you disappeared. and they had to be set up well, everyone had to be looking their best - i remember my mum would always have lipstick handy whenever a photo was being taken, because it was a big deal.

and now it seems that our relationship with our image has changed. taking a photo is no longer a big deal - there isn't the expectation attached to it because, more often than not, we can screen and edit it to our liking. and we're used to seeing ourselves reflected back onto ourselves more often.

i now have an inordinate amount of control over how i think people should perceive me - i have a profile where people see pictures of me all the time! i am now a public person without trying too hard. and having that, i'm also constantly thinking about how i can change how people perceive me. and all of us are fare more visually literate than our grandparents. we observe things in images all the time, so do we now think of objects, situations, relationships in terms of their potential screen resolution and how they will be perceived in 1024 x 864 pixels through a firefox browser?

and then there’s what I have to say.

I love blogs. obviously, otherwise I wouldn’t bother having one - they require love and attention. and I use myspace. I have pics on there, I’ve been working up to having flickr for a while and am going to get myself a website. and all of these things require content, which is no big deal ‘cos I write regularly, document my work and am not afraid of taking photos of myself. but that’s I think my point.

I now live my life according to what I will present on my various forums. when I take a photo of myself, I wonder whether I will upload it to myspace and when I pose in someone else’s photo, I prepare for it being uploaded on the net somewhere.

I’m often thinking of my life in terms of which blog I can put it on and if I haven’t written for a few days, I start to wonder what people might think of me – not in any harsh paranoia kind of way, but I feel the need to please my audience now. I now have an audience.

the thing I find inordinately intriguing and would like to research it some more somewhere, somehow, is that my experience is, in fact, not that extraordinary for my generation or people who have a similar lifestyle to mine. we’re all extremely aware of how we look on screen, how we sound to others’ through our writing. we are self-conscious in terms of our presentation to others, seemingly without my consideration for that.

self-consciousness is good. it can encourage me to really listen to what is happening in my life, to pay attention, not just trudge through the existence. but how quickly does self-consciousness become self-absorption?

Labels: , ,

6 Comments:

At 01 February, 2007 00:17, Blogger Will said...

I think it's a very valid point; it's the realisation of the 'famous for 15 minutes' idea.

We are so image focused now that I'd almost like to go back to when the image was a novelty.

 
At 01 February, 2007 03:04, Anonymous grice said...

Lauren, you might find this link interesting:


http://self.uws.edu.au/

 
At 01 February, 2007 03:29, Blogger lauren said...

hey will, i think it goes even further than 'famous' for 15 minutes. i think we've just created a new 'status' between private and famous which is something like 'virtual'.. lol!
and image is always attached to words now too.. we've always got something to say, or something to show.. perhaps quiet moments are the new currency?

thanks for that grice - it looks really interesting - i'd be interested to see those quantifiable stats and how they measure up over history..

 
At 01 February, 2007 09:13, Blogger Will said...

Lauren,

I think it may even be worse than quiet moments being the new currency; given the virtuals status, I'd say actual experiences are the new point of reference... pretty interesting.

 
At 01 February, 2007 23:49, Blogger lauren said...

i think you might be right will - oh dear, a return to empiricism!

 
At 19 February, 2007 07:30, Blogger Skanky Jane said...

While self absorbed, in posting "this is me" "this is my opinion" "look at me" and then basking in the reflected image of ourselves via the comments people leave - aren't we also trying to share, communicate, relate, find out how we are seen, heard...?

Every now and again, or even more often, I consider deleting everything and regret that I cannot delete everything that I have left my mark on - online.

Publishing the kinds of things one might ordinarily write in a private journal, is a "risky" business...

(Your comment: i think we've just created a new 'status' between private and famous which is something like 'virtual' - is interesting)

It feels less of a risk to write "objectively" (and I often think this objective writing may be of more interest to the reader too!) I mean that the reader is most probably not at all interested in the inane details of my existence! Yet I still publish that sort of thing. For myself? Self-absorbed?

You say you now have an inordinate amount of control over how people perceive you - well, maybe it depends on what you publish...

If I never published anything "private" I feel I could more easily control my "image". Private or not, I could invest more time (editing hard!) in constructing my "image". Would that make it less self-absorbed though? Obviously not.

The discrepancies between how I see myself, how I represent myself, and how others may see me cannot be easily controlled. It's "risky" - and it's this risk taking and lack of control that makes me think that, yes, while it's self-absorption of a sort - it's also something else...

Will's comment is also interesting - re "actual experiences".

SJ xx

 

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