The genesis of selfies can be traced back to 2007 when the first iPhone was released (complete with its two-whole-megapixels camera). Coupled with the invention of social-media platforms such as Instagram (2010) and Snapchat (2011), it created a seismic shift that’s seen teenagers transform from wallflowers to Kylie Jenner-esque extroverts in only a matter of years.
Teens today feel compelled to emulate their favourite celebrities by sharing outfits, hairstyles and look-at-me poses to faceless peers who can judge them in a nanosecond. As such, every time a #selfie is uploaded on Instagram (there’s 220 million on there, by the way), I can’t help but feel Gen Z are being robbed of that good old retro feeling of being young and wild and free.
Gen Zs were born into a world where everyone has an online identity and living simultaneously in real time and via social media is automatic.
“Gen Zs are not only used to expressing themselves online, but also receiving social validation and affirmations from their online interactions,” offers social researcher Claire Madden from McCrindle Research. “It’s hard for any teenager growing up, but this generation is trying to work out who they are, while also feeling social pressure to have a version of who they are online. They’re personal brand managers from their youngest years.”