The world is chasing perfection. It's no longer an American fault of "keeping up with the Joneses;" it's a worldwide phenomenon, touching every area the internet reaches. The busyness of that network plays against our human need to be noticed, to belong, to feel important.
So we strive for perfection.
But is that perfection even attainable—especially now that we seek it with our crippled attention spans?
The Internet Made Us Do It
The platforms worked their way from early adopters' experiments into mass consumption in everyone's lives. The network got busier, and humans struggled to stand out.
We seek stardom because everyone can have it. Steps needed:
- Read a few tips
- Post a few pics
- Share it around
But for the instant-gratification generation, it's just what we want to hear. Our attention spans are cut short by Google-instancy, by digital camera playback, by that first double tap on our Instagram photos that comes in during the same second it was posted (and the tens or hundreds more that roll in afterward).
Did the person even look at the photo before giving it a like, by the way?
Values of the Past
I figure, without the internet, we'd be a generation defined by a set of very different qualities.
It takes years to hone skills in photography. It's not a matter of simply spinning it through Snapseed and slapping a final filter on it before pushing it out to Instagram, thinking that that's all it takes to get an assignment with National Geographic Adventure. Great shorts (films) take time. It's not a matter of applying a time-lapse to something mundane and expecting a Snapchat following to dig what we put down. And just because we've written a few blog posts and attached a "Follow this Formula for More Clicks" title doesn't mean The New Yorker should be taking notice by now.
But our generation doesn't have that patience. Maybe we don't have that depth. Sometimes I feel like it's been stolen from us because there's always been the instantaneousness of the internet. Combined with every human's need to be appreciated, we see others rising quickly to internet fame and think we deserve the same.
We Don't Own Our Work
On the internet, we need to do this and more. Keep in mind that what we put out may never be seen because of ever-changing algorithms whose laws are shrouded behind a veil of mystery (thank you, Facebook). Platforms that we work to develop followings on one year may be consumed by a richer copycat the next year and leave us as the losers (thank you, Instagram video vs Vine).
Also, any fame we acquire in this age is fleeting. We don't own it. If our favorite channel goes down, there goes our status, because what can we point back to? There's no hard copy of our work, no brick and mortar gallery with sales to show that our skills were prized by others. We can only say we were Instagram stars, with xx(,xxx) amount of followers.
The Turning Point
I hope it's the former. How sad to never hold a print magazine again, read long-form journalism, or study photographs captured by a patient photographer in the field.
If we do return to some of the pre-internet values of life, we may finally gain the fulfillment that is impossible to attain when trying to keep up with the Joneses. We may never reach perfection, but I believe the striving for it—truly, with that "old-fashioned" trait of perseverance—will deepen our generation and give us back some of what the internet took from us.