Few weeks ago, I was attending a conference about digital media and there was a discussion about “selfie phenomenon”. One of the speakers said that concerts are not that important anymore, what is important is that “I AM AT THE CONCERT”. That is why we record and share. We want to blow a whistle: Hey, I was at the concert man, gimme LIKE, gimme FAVORITE, Retweet man!
And of course we come to Instagram. This is the only social media that I truly enjoy and appreciate because it comes to: look what I ate, look where I’v been, look what I’ve bought, look who am I drunk with, look at my nails, look at my shoes, look at my big selfie nostrils, look at my blood test results (my case), look at the puppy. And I like it. I like to look at the photos of my real life friends, celebrities and people that I am tripping I’m a friend with. That is OK. I can’t stress enough: IT’S OK, IT’s GOOD FOR YOU. Curiosity is tightly connected to intellectual performance and it has been a subject of various psychology and neuroscience studies. But putting a science and fMRIs aside, curiosity is an important drive for human development and when you think of it, people wouldn’t survive if they didn’t have the “curiousity bug” in their heads. Hippocampus, caudate nucleus and amygdala are jumping crazy in your brain when you are driven by something curious. Use them for something smarter than liking and retweeting all the time, but anyways, they are happy that something drives your attention.
Back to the SELFie. Recent hoaxes that the selfie was classified as mental disorder was overfloating us on the news. Ok, once again: it’s not true. But you know what is more interesting than the hoax news? The glory of “MYSELF” that marketing has come up with. Look at the old ads. You always have a narrator who tells a story and he talks to you.
“If YOU are not a part of the largest motoring organization, join AA now!”, “If YOU are willing to work a little, YOU can have a fresher looking skin with this!”. You get the point: you always have a narrator who tells YOU what to do. And now, fast forward to 4:50. You will find a glimpse of “MYSELF and I”. There is a lady telling us how much she likes her toothpaste because it’s goo for her family: “MY husband wants to protect his gums… Michael bla bla, I’d like him to grow up with no fillings at all”. She tells you the story from “MYSELF” perspective. That is the golden key. Ok, they screw it at the end and again, she tells YOU what to do because “Now YOU know why we are a toothpaste family” or something. They were one of the pioneers who started the “I” revolution, the revolution which puts “MYSELF” in the center of everything. And then, the great gurus come and they call the whole brand with an “I”. I think you know who I am talking about.
iMac, iPhone, iPad. It’s made for me, it’s made for my needs. It doesn’t have 300 buttons that I don’t know how to use. It has Siri who is MY personal assistant. The ego orgasm.
In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, esteem is just one step beyond self-actualization. Everybody needs to feel respected and recognized by their surroundings. One step below is a need for love and belonging. Everybody wants to be loved and everybody wants to fit somewhere where they belong. But above the esteem, there is the king of needs which can be only achieved if all the needs below are satisfied: the need of Self-actualization. We want to become who we can be. I want to become MYSELF. Depending on our drives, interests, capabilities, desires, we have different “maximum ourselves” that we strive to every single day. I imagine myself asking Mr. Maslow about Instagram selfies and I imagine our discussion going something like this:
“Hello Mr. Maslow, your hood Brooklyn became famous after Sex and the City and Miranda moving there-FYI, but skipping the trivia: what do you think of people posting photos of themselves on daily basis publicly?”
“Hi. Damn Miranda and HBO, but cutting the trivia: just think about it- LIKES are small tokens for respect. The more likes you get, the more people care for your photos and they are ready to waste a second of their lives by double tapping on their screen to appreciate you. That’s a token for ESTEEM”.
“How about photos of me and my friends eating in a restaurant? Or me and my drunk friends on a party?”
“That’s a token for BELONGING and LOVE. They give you appreciation for you being a part of a group. They give you a token for you being loved not only by people on photos, but by them liking.”
“And Mr. Maslow, am I sick if I put a photo of myself driving in my car on my way to Justin Bieber concert?”
“Yes you should”
“Nobody should go to Justin Bieber concert.”
“How about on my way to work?”
“That’s fine. You are trying to self-actualize yourself if you are a career-driven person. And that’s fine to share with people if you are a step closer to being what you must be.”
“Thank you Mr. Maslow.”
“You’re welcome. What a man can be- he must be”.