I am heading to California this weekend and in my search for interesting things to see and do I uncovered The Museum of Selfies. It’s a real thing! It launched in California (of course) on April 1st and is intended to run for 2 months but based on its success (articles, first page of my search,…) my hunch is that the show will be extended.
On a personal level I am struggling with a “Museum for Selfies”. I love Museums. I feel as though they are special places where we preserve our history and humanity. But a “Selfie Museum” literally designed so that visitors can take a picture of themselves in front of an exhibit or piece of art (reproduction) seems odd/unnecessary,…narcissistic?!
To be clear I am fan of selfies. A fan of photo taking to share our stories, our lives. I often recommend the use of selfie situations to clients when we are developing brand engagements. I promote contriving selfie brand engagement opportunities so am I being a hypocrite in my distaste for this new “Museum”? A Museum created for the purpose of providing backdrops strictly for the purpose of posting on our social platforms seems too far, too unreal, too unnecessary.
Jia Jia Fei, director of digital at the Jewish Museum of New York, commented that the Museum of Selfies is the latest (and perhaps most self-conscious) manifestation of “Art in the Age of Instagram.” Jia Jia speaks to the growth of the selfie (a word we all now easily recognize) in her TED talk on the phenomenon; or the “Made-For-Instagram Museum,” a term coined by Wired. “Whether the Museum of Selfies will be able to offer meaningful commentary on this phenomenon remains to be seen. But what better way to acknowledge a fundamental shift in our interactions with art than with a little meta-self-reflection.” (Rachel Kraus, Mashable)
Be it a festival, an event, a concert, a meal, when no picture is taken were we there? Did it happen? Do we need a picture in order to savour the moment or is it simply to just ensure we lived it. Have we become slaves to having to take a pic in order to justify our existence? This has been a discussion at my kitchen table on many occasions. Interestingly in my family, I post more stories and pics to social networks than my children. Originally I did it to share with my family but now of course I admit I do it to share with my bigger circle and as I build my brand I debate should I have a private feed and a public feed. And then I hear about people who have 5 personnas online??? What life are we recording online? Why are we sharing?
Well if part of the objective of a “museum” is to make you think this one certainly has. BTW I do not have any intent to visit this Museum while I am away. I really don’t need contrived backdrops for my selfies. But the “museum” conversation has made me once again note the ever important need to document our lives, to prove that we exist, that we were there, that we had/have a story and that we matter (we post not only to document but to gain ever important “likes” and comments from our friends). And of course I do think that brands can play a role in supporting and augmenting our content. I fully promote the use of selfies and I encourage brands daily to engage consumers in opportunities that are selfie-worthy. The intent is to become part of real life-stories that unfold authentically.