Death by Selfie Signals Social Decline

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Death by Selfie Signals Social Decline

Kate Beaty

Kate Beaty

Kate Beaty

Madeleine Singh, Opinion Editor

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According to a study published in the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care, there were 259 selfie-related deaths reported globally between 2011 and 2017.  That’s right, people have perished while attempting to photograph themselves with their smart phones.

Although the chances of a Lamorinda resident dying by selfie are slim, it still begs the question: What would you do for the perfect post?

I would be lying if I said I’ve never gone somewhere or done something with the sole intent of getting a photo to embellish my Instagram feed. Social media has become more and more prevalent in society.  It is impossible to escape its influence on our lives, but sometimes, I believe it can go too far.

For instance, there are now quasi-museums of popping up all over the country with the apparent purpose of catering to the need for people to photograph themselves doing out-of-the-ordinary things. These so-called museums– such as the Museum of Ice Cream and the Color Factory– market themselves as “immersive theatrical experiences” that conveniently contain dozens of Insta-worthy props that appeal to the average 21st-century social media user.

Charging a hefty $38 for “60 minutes of fun!” the Museum of Ice Cream capitalizes on our desire for aesthetic pleasure. With an array of plastic installations peppered with actual treats here and there, the museum’s bright colors and simple decor are catalysts for social media engagement.

In essence, that’s all that these “experiences” are designed for: taking photos. “Standing on the lip of the Grand Canyon, taking in the Mona Lisa at the Louvre or witnessing a seal pup shimmy onto a rock, we might pull out our phone to take a picture, only to find that what we experienced as grand feels dinky through the lens,” writer Amanda Hess pointed out in a New York Times op-ed. “But these experiences often look cheap and grimy in person. They’re made to pop on camera.”

No one attends these museums with the expectation of having a genuinely good time roaming around cheap facsimiles of life’s greatest pleasures; rather, it’s all motivated by “How good will this backdrop look on my feed?”, or “How many likes will this get me?”

It is disappointing, to say the least, that we’re willing to trade legitimate money for a currency of likes, comments, and reposts. While a majority of Campolindo’s families have the funds available to live more than comfortably, there have still been countless occasions in which I have heard my peers complaining about not having enough money to buy X, or that Y University is so expensive that it had to be taken off the college list.

But social media trends are hard to resist, especially for the average teenager.

There is increasing pressure for social media users to produce images that prioritize carefully curated aesthetics over real, candid moments. Those who do not pay for their perfect pictures must compare themselves to the “Insta-worthy” posts of their peers and feel like they are missing out on “authentic” and exciting experiences — despite whether or not this is actually the case.

Human beings have an innate desire to fit in; our existence on the internet is no exception. Spending money to feel the sense of belongingness is not a foreign concept, but, in my opinion, we are going to far. Not only is it irrational to spend money to enhance one’s Internet profile, it surpasses a certain level of fabrication that is beyond the realm of sensibility.

At a certain point, these Insta-museums will become a thing of the past, making way for the next must-have trend. In fact, some have already begun to disappear.

We should not depend on keeping up with mercurial trends to sustain our own self-esteem. We are worth more than that.

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