Working at a high-tech company, you’d expect me to be a proponent of technology. But I take it a step further.
While cultural critics and social commentators LOVE to highlight the downsides of technology — it’s making us anti-social, self-indulgent, quick thrill seekers — I spend much of my days proving the life-enriching aspects of technology.
So when I found this story on Mashable (alongside another article bemoaning the negative effects of technology on human welfare), I was inspired.
Antonia Eriksson, a young, pretty Swede, has a food-porn, work-out, healthy-eating instagram page (eatmoveporn), full of enviable selfies. But the purpose of her page isn’t to just make our mouths water or spike our jealousy meter. Instead, selfie after selfie is actually a documentary of her journey from near-death anorexia to a healthy, happy life.
Interestingly, whether she’s 85 lbs in a hospital or about to work out months later, she smiles and shows off her body. Her use of the overly smiley, seemingly vapid selfie photographic “language” lets her tell her story that much more powerfully. She’s stuns you with her honesty and jarring mismatch between an adolescent attitude and the gravity of anorexia.
No girl or woman can avoid the topic of anorexia these days. Either she or someone she’s close to has experienced the illness first hand, or she continually gets hit with the ongoing debate over whether the fashion and beauty industry destroys women’s self-esteem. And, as result, the conversation has started to get filtered out. Of course we’re all sensitive to imagery of extremely sick girls. But I wonder if we’re getting so saturated that the impact isn’t as effective as before.
Using today’s parlance of selfies is a smart way to bring the conversation back to the fore. It speaks the language that young people understand and can better relate to. And Eriksson’s brilliant juxtaposition of seemingly vapid techniques to tell a stark and important story is striking.
Lesson learned? We may do stupid things these days online. But if we scratch beneath the surface, we see that our behaviors may not be stupid or vapid at all. Instead they may be strokes of brilliance. And more importantly, they may save people’s lives.