Instagram is by far one of the most popular mobile applications that exist in our digital age. It is a way to quickly and efficiently make low-quality cameraphone photos look like they were taken by a professional, and share them instantly with followers. But since its inception, the obsession over Instagram filters and displaying our every move for all to see has skyrocketed. With this also came the categorizing of various posts with the use of hashtags, which helps label the types of photos that are popping up on the feed and, more importantly, create communities of people with shared interests. There are inspirational hashtags, fitness hashtags, yogi hashtags, foodie hashtags – all bringing people together to “oooh” and “ahhh” over photos that were filtered too many times to count. But does this really exhibit an authentic and achievable lifestyle? Do people really live like this, or is it all to make us think that other people’s lives are better than our own, leading us to question whether we are “living life to the fullest”? This is where Socality Barbie comes in – to show us that living #authentic through Instagram might be the most inauthentic thing one can do.
Socality Barbie is an Instagram sensation that started over the summer of 2015. There are countless photos of flannel shirts, specialty coffees, picturesque backgrounds, and hair flowing in the wind. It depicts the Instagram aesthetic that we all strive for. It is a satirization of how similar so many photos on our feeds have become, just like a mass-produced Barbie doll. The creator – a photographer that continues to stay anonymous to preserve the “authenticity” of the account – started it as a way to recreate the images we scroll by every day for social commentary. In an interview with Wired she said, “People were all taking the same pictures in the same places and using the same captions…I couldn’t tell any of their pictures apart so I thought, ‘What better way to make my point than with a mass-produced doll?’”. The most ironic thing to me is that the photographer actually makes the Barbie’s clothes and scenery by hand, potentially making her the most authentic of us all. The account now has over a million followers.
It was a definite wake-up call for many users of the photo-sharing app. People began commenting on how creepy it is that many of Socality Barbie’s posts are identical to ones they see from their friends every day, or even their own. It makes us think of the way we portray ourselves online, and in particular made me think, “what is it all for anyway?” Instagram has become a way to depict ourselves in the best possible manner. It originally seemed like a means to share daily moments instantaneously, but now what takes place behind the scenes of the perfect “insta pic” is hours of edits and improvements. We never post the less glamorous moments of our lives and I know I myself am guilty of instead taking about 50 selfies – primping every time – before I find something I deem worthy enough to show my followers – some of whom I don’t even know. This poses a huge issue of how people, especially young adults in my opinion, are able to develop in this digital age when we get so wrapped up in seeking validation through the various forms of social media that we are exposed to on a daily basis. Sayings like “pics or it didn’t happen” prove that our use of social media can go past the point of just sharing and into a new domain in which we are constantly trying to fulfill the need for approval from others of the way we are living our lives. This is why I think Socality Barbie is brilliant and meaningful. It is an attempt to bring to light the stereotype that now comes along with having a social media account by making us take a step back and realize how ridiculous it is to try and record every moment. Sharing is now an important aspect of social media, but as many people mentioned in class, sometimes it is just not worth it to miss living in a moment for the sake of a photograph.