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Seafood at Redondo Beach Pier

Seafood at Redondo Beach Pier

Upon suggestion of a friend/uber driver, we checked out the pier’s freshest seafood wares. From Santa Barbara crabs to periwinkles, they really had everything there. Will write more about this soon.   “It’s as tasty as it is ugly!”, said the vendor about the #Spidercrab. […]

Crayfish Removal at the Santa Monica Mountains

Crayfish Removal at the Santa Monica Mountains

My friend Lauren and I had a great Saturday collecting and measuring crayfish. They’re an invasive species in the Santa Monica Mountains, most likely introduced by fishermen. We learned quite a bit about them thanks to the friendly folks from the Mountain Restoration Trust, who […]

Is it easier to play the ukulele or ask a stranger out?

Is it easier to play the ukulele or ask a stranger out?

Instagram post for accountability:

 

The #challenge is on! 🙌 Each week for the next five weeks, @gjuarez7 and I will ask out one stranger out on a date. Romantic or platonic, doesn’t matter. Rejection is fine, and makes for an even better story.

📲 Dating apps don’t count, the ask must be on the phone or in real life. The first one to meet their #truelove wins, or at the very least, this #fun experience will help us become comfortable talking to folks! #avocadope

What’s on your list?

What’s on your list?

Made a list of things/activities that made me happy. Not necessarily in order: Zumba Comedy Scrabble Food Museums Karaoke Boogie Boarding Aquariums Gardens Arts & Crafts Musicals Interviewing People Reading about Socioeconomics and International Affairs Good Insightful Talks Video Editing Event Planning Getting Things Done […]

Wisdom Tooth Extraction (Again)!?

Wisdom Tooth Extraction (Again)!?

Yesterday, I went back to the dentist to get tooth #32 removed. The tooth grew in sideways, so I wanted to deal with the minor pain of extraction earlier rather have it develop into something worse. Like a cavity. Or who knows, just something more […]

Selfies aren’t New. Neither is Narcissism in the Age of Social Media.

Selfies aren’t New. Neither is Narcissism in the Age of Social Media.

Each year, click-bait pieces claim that today’s youth are the worst yet.* As a result, older folks get the impression that Millennials are categorically self-absorbed, spoiled and entitled. It’s repeated so often. Even mainstream news outlets like NPR, TIME, and Fortune call Millennials the “me, me, me generation”.
 
Attacking our generation’s love-hate relationship with taking selfies, critics claim that young people are vapid and vain. But who’s to say the previous generations wouldn’t have indulged in the same activity, had they possessed the technology?

Selfies are an inherently narcissistic act, but this quality isn’t unique to Millennials.

People assume Millennials are more narcissistic, because we take selfies. Especially since we take thousands of them a year. We then share our favorites on Instagram and Facebook for “likes”, a social currency externally validating the self-worth of many young people today. Yet, this phenomenon of self-documentation and the quest for adoration is hardly new. Our forefathers were just as vain as us. It just wasn’t as apparent, since self portraits were harder to both create and preserve in a pre-digital age.

Vincent van Gogh, Self-Portrait as a Painter, 1887 – 1888

Even before the term “selfie” was coined, the concept of recording oneself was around. The tradition predates our generation. Consider the glorified portraits that decorate the wall of a fine art gallery, or historical museum.

For these masterpieces to have been created, a wealthy patron must have endured hours of posing in front of the commissioned painter. They paid for these highly-edited reflections to immortalize their youth and power. Instead of Photoshopping their least desired traits like youngsters do today, our predecessors ordered the artisan to refine their physical imperfections with a stroke of a brush.

Likewise, who knows how long royalty and high-ranking officials have waited for their likelihood to be sculpted? Weeks? Months? The process of getting these labor-intensive art pieces done is as egotistical as today’s selfies, if not more.

Like today, people felt insecure about how their peers and posterity would view them. Regardless of social standing, everyone also feared that future generations would forget them. To safeguard their legacy, the rich paid for the luxury of canonizing themselves through sponsoring the arts. Even artists like Vincent van Gogh and Frida Kahlo battled their mortality by leaving behind self-portraits. The rest, unskilled or unlucky in finances, attempted to carry on their image, traditions and life through their offspring.

Robert Cornelius has been said to be the first to take a “selfie”; photo taken  in 1839.

From high culture to low-brow entertainment, selfies are now everywhere.

Some of the oldest photos were selfies. When the camera first came out in the early 19th century, early adopters were pleased that to wait less time in front of a camera person than in front of a traditional artist. Some folks even took control of the camera for themselves. They ingeniously experimented with mirrors to capture images of themselves.

As Kodak and others companies made film cheaper, the public bought cameras. Excited, common folks explored photography as a newly accessible medium. Camera users appealed to their own internal Dorian Gray by taking self-photographed portraits. Self portraits became commonplace among the middle class, and lost their place as an exclusive status marker for the elite. Through these photos, people insured that they were seen by future generations.

New technology through the years eventually boosted the prevalence of selfies. Flip-phones, and later, smart phones sold out as on-the-go devices for selfies. The emergence of social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat made it effortless to share these images. It became easier than ever to present ourselves as who we’d like to be. Empowered, we armed ourselves with a gallery of selfies to show our best self — as artificial as it may be.**

So, you might ask, “What’s the point of ‘selfies’ if they’re mostly self indulgent?”.

Simple answer: selfies bring people joy.

While some view selfies with great disdain, others regard selfies as a positive thing. CNN writes that while looking at selfies lowers life-satisfaction, posting selfies can raise self-esteem.

We can agree that passive act of constantly consuming selfies is dangerous, because it’s deceptive to compare one’s daily life to the curated highlights of another person’s. Millennials can even experience “FOMO”, or fear of missing out, when they aren’t included in their friends’ selfies. Additionally, critics blame selfie culture for the growth of eating disorders and body dysmorphia. However, more likely the pervasiveness of digitally-edited bodies rather than selfies themselves have caused these unrealistic standards.

On the other hand, posting selfies can be a beneficial way to track development and life events. Fitness models show off their “gains” through progress photos. Parents and kids alike swap photos of fleeting moments like high school graduations. Travelers memorialize their ephemeral presence at historical-cultural landmarks. Selfies have also united people of color through online communities, where members can embrace their ethnic beauty.

If it hasn’t already happened, selfies will ultimately transition to a normalized means of documentation for people of all ages. Well-known galleries have even started collecting selfies, so it isn’t too far to consider it an accepted art form nowadays.

Call us the “selfie generation”, if you want. Millennials are no less vain than their predecessors. We should admit that humans historically have been predisposed to narcissism and self-preservation. In fact, we are all members of a “remember me” generation, even if we embrace different art forms. With or without selfies, humans will continue to find ways to express our personal vanity. It’ll be exciting to see what will come in the future.
 

*Amusingly, The Atlantic points out the ongoing tradition that the old will always find fault with the young. Google the term “juvenoia”.

**I find it just as genuine to share something on Instagram as we do through physically scrapbooking or writing an autobiography. While some argue that selfies are highly-edited and narcissistic, these other means of self documentation also carry the bias and half truths we often tell others.

Making Maps on Asian American Poverty – Published for the End of #APAHM

Making Maps on Asian American Poverty – Published for the End of #APAHM

End of May means the end of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Decided to post some maps I made for class from my last Winter Quarter. I’m a bit tired, so I can’t provide much context behind them…But I will say that the socioeconomics behind […]

What Does Being an Adult Actually Mean?

What Does Being an Adult Actually Mean?

I often wonder what does it mean to be an actual “adult”. In a legal sense, it’s when you reach the age of 18. By then, you can sign forms without parental permission. Or perhaps it’s 21, the age when you can grab a drink […]

Doing Things by Yourself is Satisfying

Doing Things by Yourself is Satisfying

In grade school, we had recess and set play times, so we naturally ran into prime social opportunities. However, as we get older, this process of making friends gets exponentially harder. We really need to push ourselves to meet and build relationships with new people. In fact, our schedules fall out of sync with even close friends. So, what happens when you can’t make those fun plans with your buddies? Or say, if you’ve moved into a new town with no connections?

Obviously, you stay at home and cry. *Sarcasm*

On the contrary, I’d recommend finding ways to entertain yourself. In your own company, you can make plans without worrying about a friend running late, or compromising your own interests. You can take larger risks. Go at your own pace. Discover hobbies or favorite foods which your peers might not share. Read books that intrigue you. Paint a new masterpiece. There’s just so many benefits on doing things alone, if you get over yourself. Or more precisely, your self-consciousness.

No one really cares if you’re sitting in a restaurant alone, enjoying that “bougie” hipster grilled cheese sandwich. No one pays attention if you’re strolling down the park, breathing the fresh air and walking through the green grass. No one who absolutely matters will judge you.

Why?

Because they’re too absorbed in their own world, which clearly doesn’t revolve around you. So, get out and enjoy life. It’s quite normal to take those off-days where you remain inside your safe comfy room; we all need that. However, don’t forget to leave your bed and enjoy the whole world out there. And don’t ever wait for a friend to remind you this. Do it yourself, and for yourself.

Photo of Young Girl by Herself by Mi Pham

Good Reads: Trauma Survivors and Overworking

Good Reads: Trauma Survivors and Overworking

I really enjoyed reading Tanya Paperny’s article at The Atlantic. Paperny asks whether trauma survivors throw themselves in work to cope with their past experience. In my personal experience, it’s true that some of the most accomplished people use work as a form of escapism. Totally […]