The show of me | Profile

For a few years, mini apartments have become fashionable – first as an eccentricity of distant Japan and then as an increasingly concrete reality around us. These spaces of between ten and fifteen square meters became nice and attractive, not only because of the very high rental prices in big cities that often become inaccessible to young professionals, but also because of their curious multifunction furniture: bed, armchair, wardrobe; or wardrobe, table, desk.

Until a few years ago, the telephone and the computer were a family possession, and not a personal necessity. They were usually found in the living room of a home, and their use was divided -uncomfortably- among the inhabitants of the house. Today we take it for granted that each member of a family should have their own phone, and even their own computer.

Mini apartments, personal computers and telephones as an extension of our hand, not only respond to the needs of the market in the 21st century, but are an expression of the emergence of a new form of individualism in our time.

As the researcher Paula Sibilia says in her book titled “El Show del Yo”, in 2006, Time Magazine chose “You!” as the personality of the year. Yeah. you I. Us. You. The standing human being. In fact, a mirror shone on the iconic cover of the magazine, so readers could appreciate themselves. It is curious that the place once occupied by George Bush, Barack Obama or Martin Luther King, became occupied by all of us.

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Sibilia speaks of a permanent incitement of individuality that ends up leading to a “hypertrophied self”. Emerging technologies allow us to expand the physical frontiers of individuality. I can be my own photographer, editor, representative and teacher. I can create my own content and broadcast it, producing a reality show of my own life. Thus, the screen of our phones becomes a window to the world where we are all consumers and producers of personalized content at the same time. Where we all live made-to-measure experiences, because we are unique and unrepeatable beings. As Netflix users have probably already realized, even the cover image of a series or movie is adapted to our particular tastes.

In this context of personalization and individuality, community life inevitably undergoes modifications. Relationships as a couple and friends are affected, as well as political participation, family life or religious meetings. The social consequences of this are very well portrayed in the age of emptiness by Gilles Lipovetsky. The French essayist summarizes the individualistic spirit of our time as the tendency to live for oneself without worrying about history, traditions and culture.

But we should not have a pessimistic view of the future of society. We are simply experiencing a change in social relationships as we know them, which obviously clash with the perceptions we have about what should be. And this is logical. Our society was built for very different contexts, where intermediate institutions (family, churches, clubs) have a fundamental role.

Social networks today play an important role in society. While it is true that they can foster individualistic isolation, they can also contribute to new types of social relationships where technology is a fundamental ally. In short, technology is not good or bad in itself, but its impact on society depends on how it is used.

What role did social networks play today? Are we advancing towards individualistic isolationism? Or towards new types of social relationships where technology is a fundamental ally?

* Author and disseminator. Emerging technologies specialist.

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