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Why we should avoid trying to fit in

I have been wanting to publish a post on this picture since it went viral online. I am not sure if you have seen it, a Reddit user under the name of Lewy-G was taking a picture of his girlfriend for Instagram and he realised that everyone around him was doing the same thing. The post can be seen by clicking here.

So far this picture has gained 133,000 upvotes and 5,700 comments. Ironically, this will be much, much more popular than the planned original picture of a girl gazing out to sea alongside the other tourists. How can someone taking a picture of people taking pictures go viral? The reason is pretty simple but rarely used to our advantage.

People love taking selfies. It is a huge worldwide phenomenon. People also love their selfies receiving likes and attention. One of the reasons for this is that social media has increased our desire to fit in and keep up with the rest of society. Fitting in has had benefits throughout human history and evolution, whether it was hunting in packs to increase survival rates to gaining followers online to improve our social life and status. It makes sense. This primitive desire has spread into the digital world and we have a constant need to receive the same amount of likes as our friends and an ever increasing standard of photo to post to keep our head above the water. And with that, scenes like these are born.

 

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I visited Rio de Janeiro in 2016 and visited Christ the Redeemer and everyone (including myself) stopped to pose like JC himself. It was funny to look around and take it in. In fact, this link demonstrates very well (and hilariously) how using the desire to fit in can be manipulated and actually be used as a creative rocket boost and help us stand out from the crowds we try to keep up with.

What I have learned from blogging is that in order to gain in popularity and build an audience, readers need it to relate to themselves in some way. A blog purely about myself will be very hard to build on and attract readers. If I have blog posts that readers can relate to and gain something from, it will have a much higher chance of success. I enjoy the nature of posting something that people could potentially learn from or find meaning in, and for this reason my blog isn’t filled with selfies. That, and I don’t take selfies very well.

Also, anything that is different to the norm will often attract attention if done correctly. Some kind of thinking outside the box or at least a new way of thinking can be very rewarding as much as it can seem a risk. This is evident in so many ways in life. Look at our heroes and inspirations. Many of these people are known for doing things their way and often in unique fashion. Maybe it is focusing on working on their art relentlessly instead of putting energy into the average daily selfie consisting of a similar pose but with slightly different backdrops. I don’t believe for a second that Banksy spends huge amounts of time devoted to random pictures of people gazing out to sea, but I know for a fact an incredible amount of people will spend their time appreciating his artwork. This is how I try to think about what I want to do and why I should do it. Do I want to be another person getting a handful of likes keeping up with everyone else, or do I want to spend my time trying to think outside of the box any way that I can and being creative? The latter sounds much more exciting and in the long term, will be much more beneficial and rewarding.

Selfies are easy. That is why every single person we know does it. And success is rarely a reward for anything that is easy or rewarded for trying to fit in. That is how one simple picture taken of people taking photos will become more popular than every one of the individual beach selfies combined. And this is why we should take pride in not trying to fit in, but escaping that mentality.

Of course, I want people to do what they want and if this means asking your partner to take a photo as you gaze out at an incredible landscape, please go for it. You do you, always. But because I know so many people strive for followers and some degree of popularity online, this is more often than not the way to succeed.

Take these photos, have these memories but work on your strengths and take pride in individuality.

Seeing pictures like the one that went viral is for me a beautiful reminder that whilst we are all trying to get the upper hand and stay relevant, we are forced into being average. Life is too short to be average and everyone looking in the same direction isn’t necessarily the right direction. After all, a group gazing out into the same direction is a group bored of themselves. This doesn’t have to be the case.

 

 

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49 replies »

  1. I have never taken a selfie in my life. I already know what I look like, so I am far more interested in capturing the *rest* of the world on film. 🙂

    I started JustBearWithMe to say what *I* wanted to say (usually with lots of numbers), filtered only through the rules of good grammar, syntax and composition. The views and likes and comments and followers are certainly affirming (and who would not want oodles of them), but they do not drive my writing. That is why I only post weekly, on average–I only write when I have something new and, to me, interesting to say.

    Then again, I have always marched to my own drummer: I can only be who I am, I cannot be anybody else.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I’m sure the purpose of photos are a generational thing as I’m probably more your grandparents generation and I’m definitely using them as a record of my life and travels. There will be a time when I won’t be able to do what I’m doing now and I’ll have my photos of the experiences I’ve had. Anyway, I’m hopeless taking selfies – and I think that’s a generational thing too. 😎🚐

    Liked by 7 people

    • I think selfies are more of a millennial thing, however I see celebrities of all ages taking them also, I guess it depends on how often someone uses social media. It is great that you are recording your memories on your blog, keep at it!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I think those days are long gone now that photography is so easy. And I am sure that people would have acted the same 100 years ago if they had camera phones… It is fascinating to consider!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You are so right, well said!!!
    (Side note: I don’t like the modern phenomenon where people post photos of stangers without asking for consent and then the photos go viral. I bet that guy didn’t ask the other couples for permission. They are clearly recognizable in the shot, too. Some people don’t mind, some do. This is what distinguishes selfie takes from real photographers.)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for commenting on this. The problem is taking a photo of someone on public property is legal, and now that camera phones exist it is almost impossible to not be in someones shot. My advice for anyone is to make sure you aren’t doing anything embarrassing in public and you should be fine xD

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s not legal everywhere, for example Switzerland 😊 And anyway, whether it’s legal or not, it’s not polite! Sometimes you do things you don’t want documented, like going to a job interview when you already have a job, or changing clothes in the dressing room at the gym (yes, selfie takers are there, too!). Anyway, interesting post – the best posts provoke thoughts and discussion! 😊👍

        Liked by 1 person

      • Also have to add that in the case of the viral girlfriend-on-the-beach photo, aren’t the other couples a bit like models except they aren’t getting paid or any of the glory? Isn’t it a bit like reblogging your blog post without a link back to you or any mention of you as the author, and then it goes viral? Some people make money with viral shots. There was even an art exhibition of snaps someone had took of strangers on the street without asking permission. One girl recognized herself and complained. She found out a large print of her face had been sold at a considerable price. Legal just means the legal system hasn’t caught up with this phenomenon yet. It doesn’t make it right.
        Ok, I’ll let you enjoy your day now 😄 Sorry for being persistent and hope you have a sunny day!

        Liked by 2 people

      • I like the discussion! Thanks for contributing to it.

        It is very hard if not impossible I guess to sort this out without confusion or grey areas, as in most of my pictures there are people and thankfully I don’t have to find everyone beforehand and ask for permission. But then again I wouldn’t take a very close shot of someones face, and if they are in the image, I wouldn’t make it a controversial one.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. One of the primary reasons I quit Facebook a year ago was because it seemed the issues I posted about that I tried to gain people’s interest/attention in (Standing Rock protests, environmental concerns, etc) never received much attention. However if I posted a picture of myself with a new haircut or something trivial I had tons of likes and comments. It was discouraging.

    I limit the selfie type photos I post on my blog for that main reason; I want people to focus on my content. That being said, I agree that blogs need a way to connect with people and I feel posting pictures sometimes allows for those who do regularly read to actually “know” me a bit better. As with most things, balance is key.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree, balance is key and the reason I have a few pictures of me on here is because I want readers to know I actually exist! I find Facebook is not the place to provide my thoughts on such topics as, like you said, people just didn’t want to know. This is why I started a blog in fact, as I would often not get much response to my thoughts or if I did it was by people pretty much telling me they didn’t want to know. Blogging is a much better way to get such thoughts out there as if people want to know, they can find it and follow.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. As you can tell by my posts , I love taking selfies. It might be a “generational thing”, but hey, I’m going on 66 years old, who knows how long I have? The one thing that bothers me to no end is where people take selfies. Memorials and churches are NOT the place to take selfies. Have some respect. Other than that , nothing wrong with taking them. Be creative with it though.

    Liked by 2 people

    • As I mentioned in a comment earlier to another reader on my post, it may be a generational thing however it really depends on the person. I find people of all ages post selfies, it just depends on how much someone has a grasp of technology.

      As I love to play Devil’s advocate however (and as someone that isn’t religious), why is it that you find church isn’t a place to take selfies? I would say that a selfie in church is promoting church attendance and could be a good thing!

      Like

  6. Wise words! I perfectly agree with your thoughts. I find that being mainstream is really no fun, and I often turn out to be the black sheep. So far it turned out to be for the better, even if that meant passing certain difficulties, like being a loner in high school and getting few views on my posts, but hey! Those are just numbers. I try not to let them drive my life, because I feel that would force out my creativity when there is actually none. I prefer doing things my own way, at my own pace, regardless of how other people see the situation.
    If that makes me stand out, all the better 😀
    As for the selfie problem, I don’t think I’m a victim, although I do enjoy messing around with Snapchat filters. Still, those are purely for fun and I keep them to myself, not for public eye. This keeps me from becoming obsessed with the app and keeps me away from vices I see in plenty of people.
    It’s almost sad when you think of it :/

    Liked by 1 person

    • Like I have said before, as long as you are doing exactly what you want to do, that’s great. Whether it is Snapchat filters or making posts that are different, that is cool. My post was mainly aimed at people that may benefit from doing something different instead of trying to fit in, and if this is what you are doing, I am sure the views will come!

      Like

  7. Hi Sam, thanks for following my blog. I thought I’d click a link in the notification email and was attracted to this title. Really good post, thanks. Another oldie here – and quite a stop-in too – I take photos mainly on holiday with my partner, of the beautiful British scenery where we usually go in an old camper van. I suppose I’d realised everyone’s doing this selfie lark, and that it’s a response to the competitive social-media phenomenon, but this looks like something even more insidious, showing off your hot girlfriend in typical model poses on the beach (their backs, two of them – don’t they want to show their faces in case the guy turns out to be a bit of a dud, and they can deny all knowledge of it later?). So I have more concerns than people being vain with selfies – this buys in to the body-image obsession, helping to maintain the view of people (especially women) as sex objects, their thoughts and feelings largely irrelevant. Men are working out for their looks more, and preening themselves with products, adding to the waste and pollution from chemicals and plastics. And then more and more seem to be going to exotic places – flying there, of course – to add to their public ego-display. Looking great as they tour the planet destroying it. I suppose in time more pictures will show the rising sea level and maybe there’ll be time to turn the tide, if we’re lucky.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah, British holidays in a camper van… brings back so many great childhood memories!
      And it isn’t all bad! I am pretty confident a lot of these guys are taking the photos as a request from their girlfriends… from my perspective it seems like the girls like these poses more. The guys are just happy to go along with it 😀
      And I think travel is just something that was inevitable, whether we like it or not it is going to increase with the increase in technology and travel innovations. However we definitely should be conscious of what it does to our planet and talk about pollution.

      Thanks for your comments!

      Like

    • I guess you are right, as it still involves looking at the trends and being influenced by them. But I do like to see what the trends are, and learn that fitting in has it’s benefits but not what I want to become successful. I need trends to helps with success but I also need to try and not be engulfed by societal norms. I enjoy trying think as independently as I can.

      Thank you for your thoughts 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Very true. Being honest brings the people that we are most suited to into our lives, and this isn’t a bad thing at all.

      Thanks for commenting! I hope you are having a great weekend.

      Liked by 1 person

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