Digital Persona- Adrian Choa
So you’re in the ocean in the South of France.
It’s a beautiful day, not a cloud in the sky.
What are your feelings?
Are they, “time for a relaxing swim!”?
Or are you hit with an uneasy pressure or obsession to ensure that this moment is photographically captured and instantly uploaded to facebook?
Sunsets (make sure you capture my silhouette against this shit or at least have me jumping in mid air with all my bestest pals)
Club nights (make sure my cigarette/drink is in the shot)
Gigs (live music watched through pixellated screens)
What meal you’re eating (#burger#lovelylunchoutwithmymainbitch#whatdiet?)
The combination of improved optics on smartphones and the inevitable ubiquity of social media platforms have led to this moment. Don’t get me wrong; the desire to capture a moment in time is by no means new. It seems inherently human to wish to immortalize experience, whether it be through art or mere photographic documentation.
But to photograph with the sole purpose of displaying and manipulating perceptions of yourself seems to be a separate desire altogether.
In these realms, facebook, twitter and instagram become online CV’s for the self. Indeed, one can almost change other people’s knowledge of your appearance through the thorough screening of tags and the ensuring of specific camera angles. This leads to such remarks as “ah he/she was far more attractive on facebook!”
People become glazed in obfuscating, digital makeup. This digital makeup is seen most prominently on Instagram where aesthetic filters are used to deliberately make the banal seem beautiful. How did that person manage to make their plate of spaghetti look like a stunning sunset?
Fundamentally, the internet can give the modern person a feeling of recognition and belonging, all manifested in those beautiful, gleaming crimson notifications. This is equally sought out through the sharing of articles and videos- pieces of media which one can use as somehow reflective of your persona. If the recipient of this share enjoys or loves it, it is almost as if you are in some way responsible for the creation of it. This is seen most clearly with hipster blog/facebook groups which violently race to link a new release first. What’s more you can doctor their experience with a pre-watch/listen commentary “Oh you will die at 1:15”. From then on there is a small part of you injected into that media.
To different extents we are of course all guilty of possessing an altered digital persona. It would be impossible for a profile filled with arbitrarily taken photos and a concise list of “likes” to truly reflect anyone. However, I believe that if you find yourself in the situation where the obsessional documentation of events is more important than the enjoying of them, something is wrong.