How many selfies do you have on your phone? Or photo booth? Or instagram? And are they really only there because you were desperate to take a picture when there was nobody else around?
Was it not just vanity? Or worse, full-blown narcissism? Which can end badly, as we all know. Poor Greek mythological kid Narcissus drowned after all. Couldn’t get enough of his pretty reflection in the water...
While we might not be drowning in a pool of self love, our personalities could well disappear in a quest for instagram likes, facebook comments and tumblr followers if we seamlessly morph into popular brands that guarantee us the 15 minutes of fame so many of us seem to crave.
And not just fame, jobs. Jobs because your likeable or professional or bubbly online persona appeals to employers who are increasingly likely to bypass recruitment agencies and go straight to, well, facebook. Ideally you also have more friends and followers than other candidates, which might have a positive impact on your company’s web traffic. That’s especially true if you work in media or the arts.
Is that bad for people who consciously refrain from shameless self promotion or just aren’t very good at it? Does great art really promote itself as some of the photographers in our self portrait main fashion story are suggesting?
And is there a difference between the brand and the person? What if you’ve become a somewhat accidental role model for the pre-teen market by wearing fluffy pink outfits on your instagram slightly too often and only find out when you join yet another social networking site and immediately have a following of 11-year-olds who might not be the right audience for your posts about, say, existential anarchy or xxx-rated stuff we couldn't possibly print here.
What if ‘brand you’ becomes bigger than the real you? What if it starts dictating what you can and cannot say? And what if you personally get accused or praised for something your ‘brand’ stands for? Our cover star Alana Blanchard is undeniably likeable, very pretty and an excellent surfer. That’s all we really know about her. Brand Alana Blanchard stands for much more, something that is absolutely amazing and might simultaneously be pretty damaging for women's surfing, depending on how you (and Alana's 500,000 instagram followers) look at it.
Questions over questions, hopefully the new issue answers some of them. Or asks more, which would be even better.
Britta Burger, acting editor