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Narcissystems

Updated on February 18, 2017

Don't throw the baby -- I mean phone -- in with the bath water.

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In the mid-2000s, about the time of the Motorola Razor and pay-as-you-go Virgin Mobile phones, photo editing was gaining popularity among those who get get their paws on the new, must-have technology sweeping every business executive and lucky tween.

It was only the latter who were concerned at the time with physical, often superficial, online appearances, given the social media platform MySpace and other communication avenues like texting and instant messenger. Adults were less apt to understand why they'd want to take a picture of themselves, let alone share it with the world when they seemingly have more important things to attend to.

Before "sexting" became a household name, middle to upper-class middle-schoolers with cellular devices were the guinea pigs to the practice, discovering hormones and self-exploitation all at once. Body image reached new heights, delivering a dose of reality -- or lack thereof thanks to Photoshop and other distorting tools -- to "friends," "followers," and family.

Teenie-bopper publications like J-14 were replaced by the internet as the source for "what's in." The movie Thirteen featuring Evan Rachel Wood glamorized a rougher road less traveled for budding teens. Why stick to snap-up, striped collared shirts with a camisole underneath when ripped jeans and a little skin beneath the navel would draw more attention, more activity?

Digital cameras expedited the rise in juvenile narcissism. Before sharing at the touch of a smart phone became an option, kids experimented in more professional self-portraiture, taking into account lighting and positioning before saying cheese and manually uploading the photos via USB cord or SD card.

And some "photographers" and "videographers" became internet famous as a result of their self-centeredness. And then the adults caught on to the connected-yet-disconnected culture.

There are people now who have taken a photo of themselves every day for a year, or longer, just to show the world how much they've changed physically over time. There are people taking photos of themselves on train tracks, dying while paying attention to a superficial reality the world has taken to. Does the world seem like less of a scary place with Snapchat filters and profile photos? It seems so, until kids are killing themselves based on the negative feedback they asked for.

It seems now, more than a decade later, that the idea of focusing on what's physically in front of you and not on cyberspace is a thing of that past. That our world revolves around who liked our status, how many likes we received, and what can we share next?

Parents are distracted by their phones when picking up their kids from school, when driving said kids home, and likely also when at the dinner table. There was a time when you had to go to another room to retrieve a call, and a cord prevented the device from entering another room. The rules set forth by this '90s kid's mother have gone out the window in today's home.

We forget that technology is a privilege. It is taken for granted and is not a guarantee. At any moment, our satellites could be attacked, the private companies controlling our service could increase costs to the point of unaffordable for majority of users, and the devices themselves could fail or be deemed cancer-causing by research.

Our thoughts have become scattered by trivial, technologically-driven matters. It's like smoking. By the time the long-term effects are known, it's already been so effectively marketed that the general population is addicted and it's too late.

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    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      19 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Hi Starryhills. This is an interesting essay and good first hub. I look forward to reading more by you.

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