• marthaestevens

Being 'original' online

Creativity acts as an integral part of so many people’s personas, and thanks to the internet, the opportunities to experiment with identity in this way are endless.

With platforms like Instagram focusing on visuals, themes and aesthetic; this has created an image-obsessed generation. Myself included. And it’s resulted for many, in the idea that your online presence must be perfectly crafted and at its best at all times. Ultimately leading to the never-ending scrolling, editing, archiving and deleting of Instagram posts until you decide to just get rid of it all. Or going ‘off the radar’, because your feed just isn’t very ‘you’ anymore - or at least it's not the 'you' you want to be seen as.

It's experiencing this that has made me wonder what the endless 'inspiration' that can be found on the internet is doing to young people’s approach to individualism.

Being able to see what people are wearing, where they are and what they’re up to most of the time is pretty convenient. It's also just how life is right now.

But with the excessive amounts of content we consume online; it can get to the point where it's taking up literal hours in the day. Getting into those dark internet holes where you find yourself criticising and comparing your own feed to some mutual follower you've found, trying to think of ways your own content could look better, different - more like theirs.

Sixty years or so ago, it was a time where most people wanted to look and be just like their neighbours. To fit in was absolutely fine. People even took pride in itAnd the few people who ever stood out were usually associated with groups like the Mods, Hippies and Punks - who we now know as subcultures. Born into societies with far narrower acceptance of identity in comparison to what we experience in 2020, it was easier for them to be ‘different’.

Now, I sometimes feel like we are each expected to bring something new, cool and original to the table. Something impressive, that no one has seen before. Content that sets us apart from the rest of the crowd. However, it could be said that the very idea of being ‘different’ isn’t really all that achievable anymore, no matter how hard we try.

We live in a world where we can’t live without the help of the internet. Anything that you can think of will most likely have thousands of different results churned out by Google on said thing. In Ye Olde Times, people had to physically look through magazines and books or watch the occasional film or television programme for inspiration or knowledge. What we have now is the depth of the black hole that is the internet to fulfil our every need, and it's a double edged sword in the way that we use it.

We ponder how we can come across to our audience as a creative enigma, someone 'cool' who has their own thing going on, and knows exactly what they're doing with it. But for the most part, we go back and forth, using other people and their content for inspiration. How original really is anyone anymore?

Whether your persona is ‘fitting in’ with the crowd or is what you might consider 'orginal'; an online personality is just about as important as in real life. It's clear the internet is the latest place to find inspiration and experiment with what you discover, and I don't see this changing for a very long time. 

It is obviously still possible to be somewhat 'original' in the current climate, and I think online communities are amazing in the way that they can allow people to experiment with exactly this. But sometimes the feeling of needing to curate or showcase something great at all times on the internet can just get to be a bit much. Draining, even.

I know this doesn't speak for everyone, but I just wonder; are we ever going to be able to post anything online without questioning what our followers will think of us first?

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