Where’s the community in ‘social’?

“I hate it when women wear the wrong foundation colour. It might be the worst thing on the planet when they wear their makeup too light.” Kim Kardashian

We live in times when we’ve never been more ‘connected’. There are more varieties of social media than I can count or certainly grasp the point of.

They fade in and out of popularity like jeans fashions, all promising something new, something aspirational.

So why is it so hard to feel a real sense of community in the social whirl? Social media is defined as “websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking.”

Do you feel like you’re ‘sharing’? Do you feel like you’re ‘networking’? Social media sounds like it should bring us closer together, but is that happening?

It is difficult to see the community within the network of communication opportunity. Is that the ‘can’t see the wood for the trees’ effect or are we becoming increasingly isolated by the social media moguls – those who sell us ‘happiness’ through the kaleidoscope of celebrity connection?

Social media certainly plays a very heavy hand in the amplification of celebrity culture. What can be more alienating than being bombarded by images of heavily photoshopped, demi-deities, draped in clothes and jewels way beyond our salaries?

Never have we been more aware of what we don’t have. From handbags to our very bodies, what is culturally revered seems extraordinary. And expensive to maintain. Have you ever met anyone the same shape as Kim Kardashian? She’s an extraordinary woman… in a hundred different ways. That foundation quote is astonishing. Maybe it’s taken out of context. Perhaps it’s deliberate in its apparent shallowness. World hunger? War? Global warming? No, for Kim it’s all about makeup. A conscious choice to fan the flames of controversy and sell more of whatever it is she sells, perhaps…

I’m in no way criticising her or her existence as a current icon, I’m more fascinated by its emergence. Her imperious, bambi-blinking countenance, her stony-faced family, the equally unsmiling husband and clutch of strangely named children, it’s all oddly familiar yet alien at the same time.

Undoubtedly she is a queen of selfie culture, and it is this phrase, which in itself is less than five years old, is already officially more dangerous than sharks, if you compare shark attacks v selfies cited in deaths in 2015.

Selfie culture has been pinpointed as a potential factor in the suicide rates among young UK women, which have doubled in the past 10 years.

Calling for more research, Chris O’Sullivan of the Mental Health Foundation said: “Young women and girls face an enormous range of challenges and a lot of these are emerging at a pace that adults don’t understand. The digital world and how young people relate to it is something we need more research on.

“And this particularly reflects young women and girls in terms of body image: The ‘selfie’ culture and the need for physical perfection. We need a better frame of understanding on the way modern life impacts on our mental health including our use of social media and other technology.”

With self harming being there times more common amongst teenage girls than boys, according to a study by Manchester University, let’s hope more research happens soon.

And if anyone finds true community within the social platforms, let’s hear about them.

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