Our Personal Highlight Reels

Last October at TechStars Seattle, a video lifeblogging platform debuted which enables users to take footage captured on their Google Glass devices, edit it together, and set the video to music. The final result? A movie trailer for his or her own life, with each element carefully arranged.  The platform is aptly named “Perfect.”

Movie trailers, as most would agree, are created in order to spark interest for a film. They give a glimpse into the plot and often reveal some of the most exciting scenes of the work in hopes to spark intrigue within audience members. Perfect, by comparison, enables Google glass users to replicate this same process and hope the finished product sparks interest in its audience. Interest in what? The user’s life, of course. Another log in the campfire of our individualistic society, Perfect enables people to produce a highlight reel of their lives.

This isn’t really a new concept in the realm of technology and social media. Facebook has been accused of doing the same. We post what we want with the knowledge that all of our “friends” will see. In some cases, this leads us to post only favorable things- we wouldn’t want the Joneses to see our imperfections, now would we?

Each element that we post, whether it be film, text, or video, is placed with purpose. We act as content curators of our social media profiles. Curation, by definition, is “to pull together, sift through, and select for presentation.” Like a museum art curator, we select what we want to share and present it in a specific way so as to send a message to our audience. The message we all too often strive to send? “My life is great!”

This message is a nice thought. It’s optimal, really- who wouldn’t want to think that her life is great? More importantly, who wouldn’t want to stir envy in the hearts of others? Covetability is a valued trait in our society. It doesn’t matter if your life isn’t quite THAT perfect- fake it ‘til you make it, babe!

Picture this: while scrolling through your feed, that girl you went to high school with pops up. You know, the one who comes from that wealthy family and got into that ivy league school. You click on her profile. It’s brimming with pictures of her and her friends, bikini-clad on the beach with their hands on their hips, half-hugging each other. One of her statuses talks about how she spent the past weekend volunteering at a soup kitchen. Another reveals that she made the dean’s list last semester.  It’s like she eats butterflies and shits rainbows. Right away you compare your life to hers- more specifically, you compare your profile to hers. The urge to delete any post even hinting at an imperfect life arises. The question is, will you succumb to it?

The problem with this pursuit of perfection through social media is that we lose authenticity. When something is regarded as authentic, that means it’s real. It’s reflective of reality, and we all know that reality has its flaws. These imperfections hold value through their creation of contrast. How can we see light if there exists no dark? How can we recognize health when there’s no illness? When we exterminate our flaws through curation of our social media content, we devalue the brilliance in our lives- things truly worth celebrating.

This isn’t to say we shouldn’t be posting about the good things happening in our lives. By all means, share your job promotion or marathon completion with the world (or your Facebook friends.) The semblance of a perfect life, however, shouldn’t become the ultimate goal. Authenticity is much more attainable, not to mention relatable. And the beauty in authenticity is that we don’t have to strive to create it- it’s natural, it just is.

Photo accreditation: Thomas Hawk

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *