Selfies – they are seemingly everywhere in modern societies. You only have to go to a tourist hotspot or a concert to find yourself battling through the millions of arms (or worse – selfie sticks) of people trying to get the best angle of them and the celebrity/landscape/icon.
There are lots of criticisms to this kind of new phenomenon – people aren’t living in the present moment, people are too focused on themselves and so on. Some is warranted criticism; some is just noisy people who can’t deal with the rapid pace of change in technology.
However, I saw another, sadder side of this in my first visit to Hong Kong recently. (Don’t get me wrong – there were lots of great things in Hong Kong too! More on those in future posts).
Our hosts took us to one of the bars that overlooks the harbour to see the light show that happens every night (aside – you call that a light show? If it’s on your bucket list, feel free to cross it off – the regular city lights at night are just as good). There were a couple of young girls who arrived shortly after us, and started taking selfies. My host then told me that they will be doing that for the whole time we would be at the bar. I didn’t really think much of it.
Sure enough, over an hour later, there arms had not gone down. They must have developed some serious “selfie arm” muscles! 😉
|My selfie at the harbour…but it only took me
30 seconds, not 30+ minutes.
But seriously, discussing with my host, he explained there are more females in Hong Kong than males (the opposite issue of mainland China). As such, there is very high social pressure to look a certain way, have super influential social media accounts and be adored by as many people as possible.
I thought it was quite sad that they felt such high pressure to be always “on” and to look the same and be the same as every other female. Where is individuality? Where is the opportunity to pursue your own passions, instead of getting caught up in maintaining your status?
I don’t want to generalise and say it is every young female in Hong Kong – but there is certainly a significant portion. This is where I think learning from other cultures is so key.
I remember speaking to an American girl visiting Australia and asking her what she liked so far. The surprising answer? How relaxed we were about fashion – there wasn’t pressure to wear certain brands or look a certain way. I’m sure there is in some circles, but it was a good observation of my own culture I hadn’t picked up on.
When you are freed from this social pressure to look a certain way, there are so many other more productive things you can focus on – like following your passions and forming genuine relationships and friendships – not one based on selective social media posts and how you look.
How does your culture think about selfies? What impact is it having on the culture and the individuals?