Thursday, January 31, 2013
Never Lost in a Crowd
As Marshall McLuhan wrote, "We shape our tools, and thereafter our tools shape us." New technology, from the wheel to the printing press, has profoundly changed both mass culture and personal psychology. Although the full extent of each transformation can take generations to fully manifest, we can discern some of the implications in the present.
This week's Single Frame Stories prompt is "Anonymous." I was looking through some old images for another project and came upon a photo of a 1920's crowd scene. It suddenly struck me that if you didn't know anyone there, you would truly be just a face in the crowd. Today, you can post a Selfie and instantly establish a sense of personal identity within the mass audience. There are 90 million Selfies and counting on Instagram alone.
Our current pervasive social network is creating a retro-future morph of tribalistic narcissism. Ironically, we are intensifying our sense of unique personal identity through the through the imagined eyes of a largely anonymous global crowd. Or if we're actually noticed, the feedback from a handful of strangers.