In a world saturated with social media all people are curators. The ways we organize, filter, select and edit material on our feeds like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter reflect the ways we mediate our personal and cultural representations.
By making these choices we curate a social media persona and experience. While these decisions may be unconsciously and consciously influenced by social factors like demographics and location, overall we pretty much choose what we share and view. The popularity of hashtags like #ootd and #tbt, and the cultural phenomenon that is the "selfie" reflect the ways this self-branding is just a part of daily life.
Obviously a newsfeed does not have the same depth that is a person. We are a multiplicity of conflicting factors all at once- identity is never stable. Yet we build chains of posts and tweets which represent an evolving self-representation.
I personally enjoy this process and take pleasure in the string of visuals, quotes and links I choose. I use a #BabaChic hashtag for my personal style, I have a poetry and fashion blog, and I take tons of photos because I like to create and share.
When I reflect back on past posts, I can see patterns in the imagery that inspired me that I was unaware of at the time. The question is then, how conscious am I as I engage with social media?
When styling with a client we bring consciousness to self-representation through fashion choices. If we can wake up in the morning and check in to see how we feel and translate that into an aesthetic, we are proactively adding awareness to the ways we interact in the world. Maybe we can also add pause and check in to notice the ways we create our persona through social media.
The images and text we share reflect interests, habits, attitudes and behaviors. If this goes unreflected upon we remain within our patterns unconsciously. Perhaps in gaining this self-awareness, we can think more critically about the things we reflect to the world and the information we choose to consume.
The body and clothing have always been a space for curation and narrative. Clothing is an immediate visual marker where styles stereotypically suggest ways of being.
This is always changing and relative to context; for instance, the leather jacket used to stereotype a rebel and now it's part of a normcore Gap ad campaign. But clothing is complicated because we never really just see clothes- we see clothes on a body, and the body is always marked by other social stereotypes like race, gender and ability. Furthermore presenting the body and identity through an array of digital spaces further complicates the ways we perceive.
The questions I find myself asking lately around social media and identity are:
1. What is the relationship between who we think we are and the image we project?
2. How dependent are we on external feedback from "friends" and "followers" for self-validation?
3. How can social media authentically represent self?
4. How are we constructing personal notions of truth by curating the information we engage with?
I have no direct answers- mostly passing thoughts and questions- but hopefully social media use, just like daily dress, can become a practice to check in and become more aware of the identity we project into the world and the ways we curate truth.
This post was inspired by an afternoon checking out the 'Secondhand' exhibit at Pier 24, a free San Francisco based photo gallery. I took the photos above at the exhibit.
Pier 24 doesn't let more than a few people view at a time, creating a unique opportunity to be alone with art. The artists' in the exhibit used techniques like found imagery, historical photos and various tactile experiences of digital imagery to talk about the ways the role of the curator has expanded from the museum to an aspect of everyday life.