As I read the beginning of this book I found myself reflecting on my own social media activity and relating it to the history of self-representation.
I recently decided to embark on a digital journey through Instagram when I was given a heart monitor to wear for two weeks. I decided to chronicle my adventure through daily pictures as I dealt with trivial ordeals presented from the wires and electrodes that had become my world. Though nothing dramatic or frightening had happened to me and the monitor was for a relatively risk-free precaution, I received more feedback from this journey (both online and off) than I had received from any previous social media foray – not counting announcing an engagement or other life milestone.
It seemed that my Instagram chronicles had brought attention to my generally unimportant day-to-day struggles living with a heart monitor. However, today people are often ridiculed for posting selfies. One piece of this book that has stuck with me was the paradox Jill Walker Rettberg brought to life: There was once a time in history where painting a self-portrait was viewed as more socially acceptable than writing about your own life. However, today taking a selfie is viewed as less acceptable than posting a status update.
Technology has made it easy to share pictures of ourselves, yet we are now being perceived as self-absorbed. It is human nature to chronicle ourselves and represent ourselves through the filter of our choosing.
As the book says “We are all at the center of our own world”.
However, Rettberg has framed this in a way that is all too commonplace in our society today. Who is being held back and scorned when selfies are condemned? Young women.
We are taught: women shouldn’t expose themselves.
Historically blogging or posting about oneself has been condemned or scoffed at. And historically these activities are more common with young women. Not to turn this blog into too heated of a feminist-power zone, but it’s easy to see the many ways that society still hasn’t allowed women to have a voice.