Let me take a Selfie…

In today’s modern world, we find that our society has become ever more encompassing and progressive towards attitudes and habits that were once not freely expressed. We stress the importance of acceptance and that we should “walk in someone else’s shoes”.  Important social and political issues have become much more meaningful to members of a community, and with the rise of the digital age, we have seen social issues such as transgender rights become more important to the community than a potential financial crisis.

I feel that this is predominantly due to the rise of social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram that promote ordinary people and their views to a wider audience. However, how strongly do those people and companies feel about LGBT rights and issues that they appeal for online? Is it authentic? Or is it a mere public relations campaign pandering to the mainstream opinion?

Michael Goldhaber discusses this in work; The Attention Economy and the Net. Goldhaber argues that with the rise of the internet and it’s social networks, the rise of what I call Neo-Me, has arisen. This is reinforced as Goldhaber argues that in this new medium, attention is now the vital commodity, if not the very economy itself, online. The selfie, it appears, has become the mainstay, the diamond of the crown, for this new economy. A selfie allows the “photographer” much more control and power over traditional photographs.  This is due to the ability to style and pose yourself as you can visually see what the outcome will be; thus it is a moment-capturing mirror in your hand.

Selfies are typically the most common photos that users upload of themselves online, and often are far more flattering for as previously mentioned, the uploader has a higher chance of getting the “right shot”. This puts further emphasis on the rise of the attention economy, as selfies are truly the most personal, customized and stylized that broadcast and promote individuals. Alain de Botton states in his work, Status Anxiety, that with the rise of social networks, social status has become the most prominent export any user can utilize of themselves.

Just recently, Justin Bieber charged $2000 USD to take a Selfie with him during his Purpose Tour in Seattle. So, as one would expect the high charge for such a selfie, these selfies would be purposeful, detailed and a once-in-a-lifetime. Wrong. This is what such a cost would grant:

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I can think of many more important things I would spend $2000 on, however being able to share a selfie with the one and only JB across your social networks is a sure-fire way of promoting yourself and raising social status. It is physical evidence that you did indeed meet, and with the rise of smartphones, you have that wherever you go as evidence; thus eliminating any non-beliebers….(pardon the pun).

Therefore, I feel that Goldhaber is correct when he states the social networks and the digital age have paved the way for the rise of the attention economy. We are all partakers in this social phenomenon, regardless of how active we participate or how little we believe it, it is the new norm.

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