We are now in the Era of Me. This is the era of hyper-connectivity, limitless possibilities, and everything made easy. We are so constantly bombarded by media, by information, by new knowledge – whether it is as important as new scientific discoveries or as trivial as your neighbour’s new hand soap. Almost as a defence mechanism to the constant attack of new awareness, we end up looking inward, at ourselves. Of course self-awareness is something everybody should have, but with the advent of new gadgets, apps, and avenues, good-ole’ self-awareness so easily evolves into self-centeredness. The result is an infinite stream of vainglory on social media.

In the past couple of years, tens of variations of photography apps, photo editing apps, and photo-sharing apps have sprouted. All of which mostly contain variations of food photos, OOTDs (outfit of the day), and pouty, duckface selfies. They are used, and oftentimes, abused by everyone with or with access to smartphones and the internet. Skill, instinct, “an eye” are practically of no value because there’s really no need for them. Snap a photo, pick a filter, upload. Done! Instant art; 179 likes and counting.

Rewind to, say, a decade ago though, and people did not have the luxury of taking photos every moment of their lives so they could share it to the world at large. The most prominent photo-editing avenue back then was Adobe Photoshop, the wielding of which inspired awe and wonderment among the masses. But whether taken by a professional on his DSLR, or by your cousin on the family instamatic, pictures weren’t as easy to view as they are now. They used to be sought out, they used to be an experience in themselves.

Society, with the aid of technology, has definitely come a long way from hallowed photographs to the current online barrage of images. These days, whether we like to or not, as long as we’re on social media, we are forced to look. It’s annoying and unnecessary. Or is it?

Perhaps it could be argued that this outbreak of selfies and over-documentation is actually causing some ripples on the opposite end of the spectrum. And perhaps this ripple is one we actually need. As more and more visual noise enter our screens, we become more conscious of quality, of content, of value. We become more discerning; it’s almost as if we get an education in what not to do, so that we try and do it better. Thus the #selfie #ootd #foodporn become indirect learning aids not only for what we should and should not do, but for what we like, for what we allow and tolerate on our timelines and our dashboards.

Once we know that posting a picture of ourselves pouting in front of a mirror is a waste of time and data, then one step at a time, we are improving the quality of online life.

Julia Escano – Shoot The Frame