I have become fascinated by the degree of self-expression that todays culture encourages. I have no positive or negative opinion of whether this is a good thing, but it seems to be something that is becoming more and more prevalent as time goes on. One of the examples I often use is how the Beats headphones have become embraced by people as a statement of being part of something cool, and therefore becomes a pointer to being cool themselves. This is nothing new, but it is spreading to almost everything in society.
Over on Brand Republic (link) they had a short piece that sums it up really well, and a service that caters for the need. It quotes Heather Cork, North American vice-president of the Future Foundation, who says:
Consumers are constantly polishing the image of themselves in the real world in order to post it in the online world
Not only this, it has an interesting statistic: 30% of millennials added that they wished they could be more like their online selves. This leads to interesting behavior – online selves become desired selves, and then the real self strives to be authentic to the online self. This is a kind of search to develop an authentic self based upon what is considered an external view of self as viewed online.
Not surprisingly, we are willing to spend a considerable amount of effort and money preening our desired selves, as the Beats example shows. Now, some enterprising graduates have started to help those on their identity and image mission, by providing #noshittyphotos (link). They spray footprints on the ground at famous tourist destinations to help you take the picture that makes you a better photographer (if only they could make an app with super precise GPS, then we wouldn’t have to find the footmarks).
In that way, you can become a better photographer, so that can add to the image that people have of you. Until of course, they ask you to take some photos for them, at a place without footmarks.
The reason I am intrigued by this, is that there must be a huge service potential to cater for this need of refining the online self and linking this to the real world self. Coffee shops do this already, to a degree, but this takes it online – digital services supporting your online image and how this can enhance your real image and self. Now thats an interesting area to explore.