by Iulia Gheorghe
Infinity Mirror Room by Yayoi Kusama at the Museum of Fine Arts in Nancy, France
Some background (because I love over-explaining)
Ever since I’ve started to share photos on HI5 (a social media network from the Pleistocene era) I’ve been fascinated with the connection between self-expression, identity and image. In “The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life” the sociologist Ervin Goffman writes about his studies of the “impression management” aka the actions we take on a daily basis in order to be seen by others as we wish to be seen. I guess selfies play an important role in the making and the breaking of our impression management strategies (even unconsciously).
As far as I’m concerned, I took my last no-filter selfie on Sunday, 31st of December, 10:33 AM, while chatting with Diana on messenger. It was the day we launched our first newsletter (subscribe here if you haven’t yet). I’d just woken up and definitely moaning. She has such a great energy in the morning and she wanted to review the last details of our letter, but my brain was feeling so cloudy that I sent her a selfie with my swollen face as a response. Take it easy on me, girl. I have binge-watched stuff on Netflix the night before and somehow I managed to wake up and not look human. Have you ever heard about this species, the “puffy”? Well, now you have. I was a “bloated-and-not-so-eager-to-start-the-day-puffy”.
I took my last proper selfie on Sunday at 8:33 PM, using the disco Facebook filter and sharing it on a private group of friends. I did it because I wished they were there, in the same room with me, so I could entertain them. Before midnight, we had our family portrait taken with a Fuji Instax. While the Polaroid picture was drying, I was browsing through Instagram.
And then, the questions popped in my head like popcorn (in an XXL bag).
In addition to all that, I’ve always felt a strange tickle every time I posted a photo of myself and received a lot of engagement, but almost no engagement at all when I posted a link to an article or an interesting reading. Beautifully written pieces on interesting topics by journalists or authors full of potential were acutely ignored, while likes pilled up promptly for a profile photo.
I see this happening a lot in my social media feeds, so it might have happened to you too. It gets frustrating in time, because one can feel that the only path to transmitting a message, promoting one’s projects or sharing an opinion can be an impulsive self-promotion through staged portraits and selfies.
There was only one way to figure out some of these issues or at least to dig as deep as I could.
This is why for one year, I give up selfies. Published or unpublished. On my public social media feeds and on the private feeds as well (Messenger and WhatsApp included). I will write periodically about my experience on heartbrunch.com, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
I don’t think that selfies are Nosferatu or that they should be banned. Putting yourself out there is an excellent tool to promote self-worthiness.
My goal is to better understand:
A. the desire to push that button and take that selfie (& maybe edit and retouch it, then eventually release it)
B. everything that happens if/when we fight that urge.
But most importantly, for one year, I want to raise awareness about the projects and causes that don’t receive the attention they deserve.
The Internet is chocking with content and gagging on algorithms that privilege paid campaigns. I believe we should be more selective about what we publish and how frequent we do it. Thus, every time I will feel the urge to take a selfie, we will publish instead a picture of an inspirational project/work of art/cause.
And we count on you to help make those initiatives more visible by sharing them on your networks.
While some of us can spend one year effortlessly without any selfies, there are others who couldn’t live or work without. I am somewhere in between. I am in for one year, but you can try it for a day or for a week to see how it feels and what happens.
Please drop me a line about your experience at firstname.lastname@example.org
Join the #oneyearzeroselfies movement by posting a photo (or a link, a message, your choice) with a project/work of art/cause/opinion that you think is worthy of attention. And to make it easier, if you need a hand, each month we will propose a theme.
This month’s theme: support inspiring Instagram projects/accounts with less than 10.000 followers that don’t have a budget to surf through algorithms.