“Could I be any more authentic?!”
Socality Barbie is an Instagram account that primarily pokes fun at the social media app’s “community” culture, but it also offers a broader commentary on how our culture is evolving in how we portray ourselves online.
Authenticity on social media can be a tough trait to find. The culture on Instagram in particular has made self-obsession pretty much the norm, as people often strive to boil an entire week of their lives into a single photo, ignoring the less glamorous moments, and thereby portraying their lives in a more monochrome filter than inkwell.
It’s fruitless to blame the individual platforms, but it’s easy to see the problem intensifying. These apps have been pitched as ways to record “everyday moments” but we don’t often see the incessant manicuring of personal image that takes place behind the scenes. Kanye West admitted that he spent four days editing his wedding photo before he let it get posted on Instagram. Narcissism and self-consciousness can be tough to distinguish from each other among the hashtags.
A new generation of social media apps have sought to emphasize recording a memory for its own sake. You can’t see how many likes other people’s photos get on Shots, and you can’t even see what you’re putting online with the video app Beme.
It’s interesting to think about how concerns over online privacy may have driven this cultural move. The idea that what we’re putting online will likely be there forever and could be accessed by anyone, might mandate that we carefully take a look at what we post more so from the eternal viewer’s perspective than from our own.
Some iteration of every one of these photos has crossed through my Instagram at some point or another, and I’ve definitely dropped a few of these myself. But there’s something about seeing a plastic doll in a photo that seems so familiar that makes you question just how #authentic you are.