Social Media's Obsession with Aesthetics and Curated Identities

Social Media's Obsession with Aesthetics and Curated Identities

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i'd like to start with the rorschach  test today if that's all right with you   M. shanspeare? MS: that's fine doctor. D: what do you see when  you look at this picture? MS: dark academia D: alright and this? MS: royal core D: and how about this? MS: princess fairy castle with  a pink ribbon tied to the turret core sir M.Shanspeare, i-i think i've come  to a conclusion about your symptoms   you may have an illness known as hysteria. MS: what? D: hys- oh! oh. wrong century. wrong doctor. i meant to say you   may have something known as aesthetic  obsession. have you heard of it before? MS: no   doctor i-i don't understand. D: of course  maybe this instructional guide will help

like most hard to understand concepts surrounding  civilization and philosophy, the history of   aesthetics can be traced back all the way to  ancient greece. during the time of plato and   aristotle, philosophers were enamored by the idea  of beauty--though it's important to note that an   exact translation of the word may not have existed  at the time. they were curious about the purpose   beauty held and the required characteristics that  made it beautiful in the first place. the study of   beauty was often in relation to the arts, such  as visual art, literary art, and musical art. all  

referred to as craft or techne by plato. i've read  five sources covering the philosophical history   of aesthetics for this video and i'm going to be  honest with you: i didn't understand f*** all   of what i was reading. but i'll try my best, which  is all this channel ever asks. according to roger   scruton, a fixed definition of aesthetics is hard  to come by. the word is derived from the ancient   greek word aesthetikos which means "perceptive,  sensitive, or pertaining to sensory perception"   the first use of it in modern sense is  arguable, with some sources citing joseph addison's   1712 series the pleasures of imagination while  others award the act of coinage to alexander   baumgarten who used it in his own work to "emphasize the experience of art as a means of   knowing." knowing what? who's to say.  certainly not knowing what the f*** is going on  

a more common easier to understand definition  of aesthetics would be: "concerned with beauty or   the appreciation of beauty." and just like mega  star super boyband one direction said in 2012   you're insecure. don't know what for. but a greek  philosopher is writing a list of reasons and he's   eager to let you know. according to aristotle, a  beautiful object is defined by "the absence   of all lust or desire in the pleasure it bestows."  this beautiful object must also retain   order, symmetry, and proportion. it can't be either  too small or too large. xenophon, a greek historian   and philosopher, believed that beauty coincided  with goodness and that both were essentially   related to their usefulness. plato on the other  hand argued that beauty was an abstract form  

meaning that it remains timeless unchanging and  real in comparison to the fleeting evolving and   fake nature of the physical world. outside of  the western world, a deep consideration of beauty   and aesthetics can further be found. according to  wikipedia "the oldest surviving complete sanskrit   manuscript that discusses the theory of aesthetics  is of Natya Shastra, written between 200 BCE and   200 CE. this theory is called rasa in the text. rasa  is an ancient concept in indian arts about the   aesthetic flavor of any visual literary or musical  work that evokes emotion or feeling in the reader   or audience but that cannot be described."  in africa, the closest term to art according to  

Malidoma and Sombufu Some, two cultural emissaries  of the Degara of Burkina Faso, is the term 'sacred'   this is exemplified by congo nkisi power  objects which are "objects traded on the   contemporary art market on aesthetic value  and whose purpose is to serve in rituals of   personal and community healing." what we  find aesthetic has surely evolved since the time   of aristotle. well, kind of. symmetry still seems to  be a big indicator of beauty. even size remains a   factor in what we find appealing. unfortunately. in  2012, lorraine cosmetics sponsored a britain wide  

beauty contest in order to find the most beautiful  face in the region. the winner, florence colgate,   was chosen based on the following reasons: she  has large eyes, high cheekbones, full lips, and   a fair complexion. symmetry appears to be--  fair complexion? run that sh** back! our   cultural upbringing and regional location has  the ability to dictate what we find beautiful   and therefore what we find aesthetically pleasing.  the history of european colonization for instance   has conditioned most of the world to believe  that white or at the very least fair skin is   the highest standard of beauty. i cannot begin  to explain how much this drives me to the edge  

speaking of, moral unjustness also plays a role in  what we find aesthetically pleasing, to the point   of our taste--as it's called--having the potential  to be guided by our political and economic beliefs   if you're against over-consumption or flashy  displays of wealth you may find things like tesla   or gucci ugly. i mean if you have any taste at all,  even the most rottenest of tongues, you will find   tesla or gucci ugly. i mean what the f*** is this? [clown horn]  the theory of taste was a big aspect of aesthetic   discourse in the 18th century. it referred to our  ability to judge the aesthetic value of any given  

object. analysis of personhood, especially things  related to the humanities, wasn't considered the   highest priority back in the day. we know this.  but when alexander baumgarten "began using the   word aesthetics to refer to the lower faculties  of judgment" people began to take notice   they realized "there was something in common  experience when confronted with beauty that they   didn't understand." sure, it wasn't math  or science, but they knew they had to shut this   sh** down until they understood what the f***  was going on. the theory of taste doesn't refer to   actual tasting with a tongue, it often refers  to an arguable sixth sense. it's like i have  

ESPN or something. the origin of the metaphor  is hard to pin down, but one theory stems from   how people in the middle ages believed "different  tastes elicit healing and nutrition in the body."   so, in order to remain healthy in a  time where eating a berry could kill you three   times over, one had to be good at discerning which  foods had the best value. in other words, one had to   have "good taste." the theory of taste fell out of  popular favor by the 20th century, soon replaced   by the theory of aesthetic attitude. whereas  aesthetic taste put the onus on both the viewer  

and the art--i.e, the art had to be inherently  beautiful and the viewer has to have enough taste   to discern such beauty--aesthetic attitude focuses  solely on the viewer. "the beholder's state of   mind becomes more important as his or her--" just  say their. it's grammatically correct, i promise   "as their attitude helps or hinders the possibility  of aesthetic experience." so if a viewer   isn't feeling particularly aesthetic that day, they  can simply refuse to see the beauty in an object   however, if they wake up feeling quite dark  academia-coffee cup instagram photo-rorschach   test skit at the beginning of the video, they  may just see something worthwhile after all.   D: what do you think? MS: i don't really get it, i mean  how does this relate to my aesthetic obsession?   or i guess what i mean to ask is how is it a  bad thing to be obsessed with aesthetics when   some of the greatest philosophers of our time  have their own curiosities about them? why can   they do it and get praised, but i do it and get  looked down upon? D: those are very good questions   M. shanspeare. modern aesthetics are somewhat  different from philosophical ponderings of beauty  

not entirely but close enough to be noticeable.  for instance the demographics have changed. there's   something to be said about the way society looks  down upon things primarily enjoyed by young femmes   and how things fall out of favor once they're  accessible to everyone not just the highbrow class   so very good questions indeed. but i  think the framing of these questions   is off. it's not about what's bad about aesthetic  obsession. finding beauty in the earth is quite   possibly the only thing keeping us alive. it's  about how we use that infatuation with beauty and   how it impacts our society that's worth  investigating. shall we keep listening? the emphasis that aesthetic attitude places on the  viewer is somewhat similar to what roger scruton   calls the idea of self-definition in aesthetics. we  make our own way, no longer hindered by clear-cut  

philosophies relating to beauty. and as scruton  further argues, this act of self-defining seems   to be the major task of modern aesthetics. when  we think of aesthetics in the 21st century, we   often think of hyper-specific instagram feeds  or the unending wormhole of aesthetic niches   on as our relationship with technology  grows more sophisticated and by sophisticated i   mean as computers and algorithms begin to take  over our very sensibilities, our idea of beauty   is becoming increasingly related to what we  see on our screens and that's not entirely   a bad thing. jordan selous, author of 'what's up  with our obsession with aesthetics,' argues that   aesthetic niches on social media allows us to  be versatile in our style and even our identity   aesthetics also help us put names to the fashion  and decor styles we find most appealing, especially   if we're new to those communities. but above all,  aesthetics make us happy. they provide connection   relaxation and satisfaction in life. studies even  show that people are more happy when they live  

in an aesthetic city or if they have the means  to experience beauty. wait! isn't 'have the means to   experience beauty' paradoxical because you can  find beauty in just about anything? you don't   need money or resources for that, right? wrong! sorry  for yelling. while it's true that beauty can exist   everywhere social media's marriage to aesthetics  have unfortunately warped our expectations   of where to find it. and just like every other  god-forsaken thing on this planet, we have chosen   to find beauty in our own biases. aesthetic  niches are often wrought with exclusion due   to these systems we have in place outside of  social media. for instance, a world that values   white skin as an indication of beauty is going  to feature aesthetic niches predicated upon the   beauty of white skin. but don't let me talk  your ear off. let's read some T.O.E mail, shall  

we? we just got a letter, we just got a letter! we just got a letter, wonder who it's from! SAW: hello. a subscriber named marley states: i'm a  member of the nymphet aesthetic community it   was developed largely by BIPOC girls and femmes  on tumblr to romanticize the carefree attitude   and innocence of girlhood, something many of us  did not get to experience due to racism. we really   did our best to make the space inclusive of  and inviting to different experiences but it's   impossible to escape the association of youthful  and innocent femininity within white girls. this  

was so much of an issue that the pro-eating d*sorder side  of tumblr co-opted the aesthetic, rebranding it   'waif.' these people harassed others in  the community by using racist rhetoric   including the adultification of black  girls and hypersexualization of fat bodies   the waif iteration has morphed into the immensely  popular coquette aesthetic now. without examining   the history of what's viewed as soft and innocent  this version of the aesthetic will continue to be   inherently racist and fatphobic. another subscriber  states: i would like to point out that things such   as goblin core are anti-Semitic. goblins are  often pictured as hook nosed, green skinned,  

money-hungry, and dirty, which are all anti-semitic  picturings of jewish people. and people in this   aesthetic specifically seem to only want to play  into these stereotypes. all of this i have seen   discussed in my jewish circles. considering this,  i'm sure there's other systematic problems in  

aesthetic culture, but since i'm not in those  circles, i unfortunately cannot give much else.   money and financial accessibility is also becoming  a defining characteristic of aesthetic niches on   social media. one subscriber states: since i usually  don't buy fast fashion and try to thrift instead, i   can't help but notice that there's very few things  that fit the aesthetics i'd like to try for myself   and are also in my size. accessories in particular  are hard for me to justify with my limited budget   i need shirts anyways so buying a fancy one  sort of makes sense and feels less wasteful   than buying a bunch of rings. last but  not least, our final submission states:  

i think there is also some classism in aesthetic  culture. putting oneself wholly into one of these   aesthetics can involve buying a lot of clothes or  accessories which excludes a lot of people and is   also a problem due to fast fashion. aesthetics like  'that girl' again often involve a lot of time which   people who have to work several jobs don't have.  these subscribers certainly aren't alone. someone   by the name of pink slime tenders on reddit--two  phrases that make my stomach curl, but i live for   the investigative drama--argues that our current  obsession with aesthetics essentially kills   self-expression. and when you add tik-tok into  the mix...well, you know what it's like on that app. i love to get in sparkly dresses. [high pitched noise] they state, "it's like when tik-tok gets a hold of  something, it becomes commodified in a mainstream   and marketable way to make it less about your  own expression and more about fitting into a   consumerist box." from large aesthetic  based shein hauls worth hundreds of dollars, to  

hyper-specific instructions on what to buy in  order to be seen as your goal aesthetic, this   certainly seems true. but even further than that,  the time frame between these aesthetic trends   are dwindling at uncontrollable rates. leading to  even more requirements needed to fulfill a look   and subsequently even more consumption. melanie  suriarachchi is the author of 'microtrends and   over consumption: fashion consumerism in the 21st  century,' and they essentially argue that the era   of the influencer has resulted in the reduction  of fashion cycles. they note how fashion trends  

have been around at least since the 14th century  when elites showed their wealth through certain   trends. in order to influence their own style, average people depended on magazine editorials   fashion shows, and red carpet looks from models and  celebrities to determine what was in style. this   isn't wholly different from how we go about trends  today, save for two conditions. influencers are now   added to the melee of elites we seek guidance from.  this isn't inherently bad, i don't think, but when   you add the internet to the equation most things  go to sh*t. whereas earlier fashion cycles lasted   "on average between five to ten years," according to  suriarachchi, the internet has reduced these cycles   to three to five months. and that, dearest reader,  is how a micro trend is born. suriarachchi defines  

a microtrend as "trends that rise in popularity  rapidly. however, their fall is equally as swift."   with online buying and fast fashion,  "followers can emulate trends they see on their   favorite model, actress, artist, or social media  personality in a matter of hours." and   unfortunately those clothes often end up discarded  once the trend dries up. according to suriarachchi,   the waste from single-use outfits created  approximately 95 million kilograms of waste   in 2019. the production of textiles has  doubled and our buying habits have increased   with the average person purchasing  60% more clothing garments."   so it's okay when the elites participate in  trends but not when the commoners do? isn't that   plutocratic? i mean it just sounds like they're  mad that influencers and regular teens get to   shift the tide for once instead of wealthy fashion  houses. D: i certainly see what you mean M. Shanspeare.  

but i don't think that's the point of the source  nor is it the point of the instructional guide. you   see, the presentation of this information is more  so for us to consider how quickly trends cycle   through and what this may mean for us. if this  is the rate at which we produce, use, and discard   such items, what will that mean for our future? MS: so  i should just stop participating in aesthetics   then? i thought you said that seeking beauty is  the only thing keeping us alive or whatever? how   am i supposed to give that up? D: you're right, i did  say that, but i also said that it's worthwhile to   investigate our infatuation with beauty and  how it coincides with our technological habits   do you happen to use instagram, tumblr, or  anything like that, M. Shanspeare? MS: i'm sorry what?

above all i think our relationship to social media  is what needs to be analyzed the most. after all   it dictates how we interact with modern aesthetics.  now, this isn't me climbing up on my soapbox to say   these youngins are ruining their brains with  that facetagram and instabook! Or as my mom   would say, "because you be on that phone." and i do  be on that phone! if you saw my hourly usage you'd  

understand why i am the way i am. it would  be hypocritical for me to condemn people   for doing something that i already do so that's  not the point of this video, or any of my videos   dressing how you want, spending your money how  you want, and finding beauty in what you want--so   long as it doesn't hurt others--is perfectly fine.  i would even encourage it. i think the problem   arises when we let social media and the technology  that grants us access to social media dictate all   three. because it's no longer self-defining as  roger scruton explained. it's defined by micro   trends, systematic limitations, and what maria  popova calls "the violence of photography." the   title is a bit dramatic but "aesthetic consumerism  and the violence of photography," by maria popova   is such an amazing source. the level of sublimity  i reached while reading it transported me into   the body of a white man in 19th century britain  who saw a mountain for the first time and wrote   a poem about it: upon that mountain... upon that  mountain, none beholds them there, nor when the  

flakes burn in the sinking sun, or the star beams  dart through them... sorry. popova primarily cites the   1977 collection of essays titled "on photography,"  by susan sontag to better complete the picture   of our obsession with capturing  experience and curating our lives. according to popova, images validate experience  in this world, and sontag agrees: "photographs will   offer indisputable evidence that the trip was made,  that the program was carried out, that fun was had."  when i was in high school i was  really into aesthetics. i mean to this day,  

i still run a curated instagram feed and i work  really hard to make my videos visually appealing   but back then i went overboard with it. i refused  to post anything that didn't match my instagram   feed and this would just depress me because i  wanted to post that specific photo. how else would   anyone know that i dressed up that day? how would  anyone know that i ate this pretty food? how would   anyone know i...well that was actually the extent  of my adventures, so i'll stop there. for everyone   else who partakes in much more interesting  much more aesthetic happenings, the curation   that social media allows creates a fantasy of  our life for other people to consume. "photographs,  which cannot themselves explain anything, are  inexhaustible invitations to deduction, speculation,   and fantasy." our social media habits  relate to our aesthetic obsession in many ways   and in turn affect our livelihoods in many  ways. without curation, without fantasy, without  

the ability to pick and choose the best images  of our life, modern aesthetics may not even exist   if a dark academic takes a picture of their coffee  cup and handwritten journal but no one's around to   see it in the dark academia hashtag, does it make a  sound? if we cease to experience life through tiny   squares, lenses, and screens, does life cease to  exist? sontag talks about how "most tourists feel   compelled to put the camera between themselves  and whatever is remarkable that they encounter...   unsure of other responses, they take a picture. this  gives shape to experience. stop, take a photograph,   and move on." this is vastly different  from the practices that were basically held as law   in the romantic era. poets would go out into nature  and view a rushing stream or even something as  

simple as a cloud moving over a field of flowers  and they refused to put anything between them and   that experience. sometimes they sounded scared  in their recollections, like they were almost   insignificant in the face of such natural power. we  often stop ourselves right at the edge of feeling   that emotion, choosing instead to experience it  through the smaller lens of our camera or phone   anything that's too large, that's too powerful,  even things that we may find small in dimension   we have to fold up in order to digest. and on  the other hand, we're also too afraid to let   that moment pass without some souvenir that  it happened. i survived coffee in the park,  

i survived this sunset, i wore an outfit that made  my heart race and i didn't die... "all photographs   are memento mori. to take a photograph is to  participate in another person's (or things)   mortality, vulnerability, mutability. precisely  by slicing out this moment and freezing it   all photographs testify to times relentless melt...  we fill our social media timelines with images   as if to prove that our biological timelines  our very lives are filled with notable moments   which also remind us that they are inevitably  fleeting towards the end point of that timeline:   mortality itself. needing to have reality confirmed  and experience enhanced by photographs is an   aesthetic consumerism to which everyone is  now addicted." D: well, what do you--M. shanspeare?

[the sound of wave crashing on the shoreline] "that most logical of 19th century aesthetes  malarme, said that everything in the world   exists in order to end in a book. today  everything exists to end in a photograph." -Susan Sontag come on pepper. this is  exemplified by Kongo nkisi-   don't know how to pronounce  that! pepper, don't you dare.  don't--don't you dare. cinnamon. cinnamon. cinnamon. melia--melia? i'm gonna cry i might actually cry

2022-06-27 20:39

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