Are people losing themselves in internet labels?

Design: Fatima Jahan Ena

Social media was originally introduced as a way for people to stay in contact with their loved ones and network with others. Over the years, it has expanded beyond that. Nowadays, many use it as a way to indulge in their favourite media, interests, or just express themselves in their own ways.  As a result, many subsections started popping up in each site, where people with similar interests could convene together, and form their own community, giving individuals a place to be themselves among others who share the same interests.

But lately, rather than having one's interests be a part of them, they need to become a part of their interests instead. They exist as an extension of their shared space. There's nothing inherently wrong in feeling like this, and this is what many people prefer anyway. However, people can end up losing themselves in these online spheres dedicated to aesthetics or interests.

Aesthetic-based communities generally take anything with a certain feel or vibe, and turn that into their whole persona. A cottagecore account might post about going to picnics in humble country-sides in long, flowy dresses, while a dark academia one is more likely to post themselves sitting in libraries and indulging in classic literature.

It's not to say that these people hate what they're doing, but once someone has chosen to be a part of a community like this, they'll need to stick to it if they want to keep their followers. If someone's having an off day, and would much rather indulge in media that doesn't correspond to their chosen aesthetic, they won't be able to show that on that account because it's not the right vibe. If they do, they could lose followers since the content they posted does not align with their advertised aesthetic.

Another issue that arises is overconsumption. In order to hold on to their respective aesthetics, they'll need to spend some money on keeping it up, especially for content creation. A "Barbiecore" account that posts themselves wearing the same three pink outfits isn't going to have as big of a following as someone who has a large variety of clothes that they never repeat. For many people, their aesthetic can just be a part of them along with many other things, but once it goes online, it often needs to become their entire identity.

The problem that comes with these rigid labels is that not everyone can fit under just a single one. Most people's styles are a mix and match of different aesthetics, some that they might not have the words to explain. Maybe the internet would define someone as having a "cybercore cowboy" vibe, but there shouldn't be any pressure to do that. Not everything needs a label to be more palatable to others. The likelihood of losing followers is why many people adhere to these ideas, but there shouldn't be such fears, and people should just focus on expressing themselves however they want.

Namreen is sick and tired. Send a reminder that life goes on at: [email protected]