Our generation nurtured to understand the importance of image rather than who we are.
The Instagram Generation, it’s not a word that contains negative connotations. But instead, a picture of me of the generation that is active in a social media platform called Instagram.
We moved on with the explosion of the TV era, Internet Chat (MIRC days!), and Blogging.
Now we are here
In the age of Instagram, at least in Indonesia right now.
Nb. Even though I write about Personal Branding, I am against lies for your branding. After all, Personal Branding is a necessity in the modern world. If you are interested in Personal Branding, you should read my article about Why You Must Have a Personal Website.
The first time I know his book was when I read Understanding Media: The Extension of a Man.
A good book and relevant until now.
And last week, I just finished another Marshall McLuhan, The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects that released in 1967.
Even after decade his book published, his words were still relevant to the development of the Internet media.
He was thoroughly explaining The Instagram Generation.
McLuhan, define ‘medium’ as an extension of a man, he thought everything from TV up to bulb light (He stated that bulb light was content-less medium) is a medium.
He believed that media has an apparent effect but ignored to support the content in the media.
i.e., People realize the effect of ads or television programs rather than the impact of the existence of TV on people.
…whenever a society develops an extension of itself, all other functions of that society tend to be transmuted to accommodate that new form; once any new technology penetrates a society, it saturates every institution of that society.
When I was writing this article, I’m 25 years old.
I was born in the ’90s, adored by ’90 kids as the golden age.
It’s not without meaning. We’re a generation that ever lives in a world without a smartphone, social media, even the Internet. A reality that may be hard to accept by Gen Z kids.
When I was still in Elementary School, the Internet back then wasn’t like the Internet I imagined right now.
For me, at that time, the Internet was just a place to chat through MIRC and a place to find game cheat codes like GTA: San Andreas for Playstation 2.
Yes, that’s it.
Even in early 2000, the Internet isn’t something used by everyone in Indonesia.
Introduction to the Internet
My mom and dad were teachers but with two different characters.
My dad was a teacher with openness to technology, but my mom isn’t.
Both of them have something in common.
When I was a child, they always remind me to be careful on the Internet, and they said there are a lot of dangerous things on the Internet. It does frustrate, because of this, they limit my time using the Internet through a dial-up connection.
080989999 Telkomnet-Instant (if you’re old enough, you’ll remember this). The only Internet connection I had with a maximum speed of 56kbps.
Internet When I was in Highschool
As I grew older, my parents’ criticism and suggestion changed 180 degrees from prohibiting me from exploring further the Internet, from telling me to understand the Internet.
“the Internet is broader than books, it’s the source of information, learn, and become part of Global Citizen.” – Suprihadi Saputro (2009)
That time I know my father’s mindset was changed.
Perhaps, it’s because he’s continuing his Doctoral studies and focusing on International Education while founding T2EDI (Teacher Training & Education Development Institute), which partnered with CIE (Cambridge International Exam).
Teachers and relatives expect my generation to be smarter and creative.
Of course, all those goals are something we should chase. We tried harder and harder to stay above the competition.
The competition caught us up, those smart and creative words diluted and lost all the meaning entirely.
The Bitter Truth
They didn’t teach us how to be creative and passionate about the things we do.
They taught us to become the one and differentiate or better or both.
All that matters was to have an image as an A grade student excels in every subject.
It was in many ways, sickening me for years. Doing everything for an agenda, and what is worst is, it’s not mine.
As the world progress and become massive and complex, school and institution trying to create the best talent they ever had and showcase them like a product for the bank, companies, and colleges.
As opposed to letting us be creative and passionate, they determine who deserves it.
We’re Doing it For the Image.
Our generation (at least in my opinion) nurtured to understand the importance of image rather than who we are.
We play sports not because we love it, but to prove that we’re competitive. We took classes for the sole purpose of our score.
We learned math because it gives more signals of competence rather than an art class that we probably love.
We’re doing extracurriculars because if we don’t, there will be a blank report card compared to others.
We’re traveling to the remote parts of nature to prove our selflessness and worldliness, with the tangible benefit of owning unique conversation topics and differentiation against others.
Then Instagram was released. Hence born the Instagram Generation
We were born naturals.
If our image were dynamite, Instagram would be the lighter to spark the fuse.
Instagram became the medium to reflect the truth of our generation that stuffed on our throat for years, and we’re riding the image that we portray rather than our own ‘actual’ character.
For the image-obsessed world, Instagram is a bliss.
The Instagram Generation fill Instagram with touched-up shots of individuals. Every picture reminds me that I live in a world where being a student council were valuable than they were in real life.
It’s not about fake it until you make it, it becomes fake it until you die.
The Birth of Finsta
and ‘Finsta’ came, or fake Instagram account.
Finsta is an insight into the Instagram generation. With Finsta, people post photos without filter and posting more than once a day. It is a sign of liberated users without any boundaries that caged them on their real Instagram account.
Unsurprisingly, ‘Finsta’ more popular among Gen Z and Millenial. It’s a prove that Instagram amplifying society status among their user.
It proves my point that we live in a fake world, and they wanted to escape from it: uncurated and untouched aesthetic photos, a characteristic of ‘Finsta.’
It reminds me back to McLuhan.
McLuhan says that a change in the message that sent through a medium will be a drop in the bucket.
i.e., If we want to eliminate texting while driving, the solution is not warning the user, but remove the medium entirely.
To be clear, Instagram isn’t the one responsible for this.
The Instagram Generation was only the trigger from the bomb that has been there for a long time. But Instagram is the main trigger.
Based on that, I concur that leaving the medium will be easier than restructuring society as a whole; It is the only solution against society’s continued evolution towards a doll factory.