New exhibition suggests selfies are ruining culture

We’ve already touched on some of the problems with selfies: snapping them during funerals and plane crashes is insensitive, and if a monkey takes one with your camera, you could find yourself in a real copyright quandary. But some people think that at their worst, selfies are more than self-centred and a little irritating. They think they’re turning us into numb, vacuous sheeple.

A new exhibition at the Edinburgh Art Festival not-so-subtly suggests that selfies are the dominant cultural artefact of our era and internet culture in general is all about the desperate search for validation. (Which we all know is wrong. There’s also Grumpy Cat.)

As New Scientist reports, Tamsyn Challenger’s show Monoculture compares the homogenisation of agriculture and how bad it is for the environment to the fact that these days, you can’t escape from selfies, which is bad for our psyches.

It includes a Catherine wheel (torture instrument, not firework) painted with the slogan ‘Please love me/Do not exceed 140 characters’ and blue stocks that say ‘take your selfie here’. There’s also a bed of rapeseed surrounded by white bodysuits with identical faces, which won’t be featuring in anyone’s nightmares, don’t you worry.

It raises some interesting points: we can all be overly reliant on being Liked and need to switch off and spend time around actual art and beauty sometimes. But there’s so many great aspects of internet culture that could have made the exhibition more playful, and which I think would have reflected people’s experience of the medium more accurately. Plus, isn’t ‘the internet is rotting our brains’ schtick a bit old hat at this point?

In fact, this concept and its execution seem so overblown that I’m going to give Challenger the benefit of the doubt and assume this isn’t meant to be sincere but is instead some kind of meta Shia Labeouf-style social experiment.

Image via Andrew Fysh’s Flickr.

Diane Shipley