Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Oversharing

Thoughts on the tell-all Internet culture

Social media is a creepy thing. 

Like an intimate look into your bedroom window, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Vine allow others to get a good glimpse at what it's like to be you. I don't want to alarm anyone or talk about how unsafe broadcasting yourself across the Web is, because "How to Catch a Predator" aggressively did that. But, it's crazy to think how much our perspectives on online presence have changed in less than a decade. 


I remember in seventh grade when I first embarked on my social media adventure. MySpace was my first conquest, and I loved it. As a shy private school girl, I stalked all the wild older high school kids – a world I was about to enter. I commented on my friend's pages (it sounds weird not to say "wall") constantly: writing about inside jokes, plans for the weekend and filled out questionnaires, signed with a charming (and ingenious, I thought) "LOVElizabeth."


My glory days on Myspace were short-lived. My parents quickly discovered my profile, and while they weren't going to force me to delete it, I was so embarrassed that I did anyway. How could I think it was O.K. to upload information and pictures of myself for the entire Internet audience to see? 


My hours of crafting the perfect profile page were ruined: compiling the perfect list of favorite musical artists, choosing my "top eight," agonizing over the appropriate words for my "about me" section, selecting a few of my best photos to create an exact brand of myself. (Question: how much did everyone hate the "top eight" feature? The act of publicly declaring and un-declaring your best friends always seemed wrong to me.)


I eventually recreated my Myspace profile, although quickly graduated to Facebook once high school hit. (I recently logged on to my long lost Myspace account, and insist you do the same as soon as you can. Nostalgia and self-loathing in its best form.) 


Nowadays online, anything goes. Headed to the beach? Tweet about it. Got a new haircut? Cue Instagram selfie. Not happy with the latest results on The Voice? It's time for a Facebook status. Gone to a concert? Vine it. 


It's terrifying, really. All it takes to learn the details of your everyday life is a quick Google search of your name in quotations. My results include my profiles for LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook and Etsy, numerous articles from my local newspaper where I'm mentioned, the student newspaper I work at, a camp I attended years ago, Ladies' Home Journal from when I contributed a photo and a couple random websites. 


To avoid being hypocritical, I will say that I'm not at all in favor of abandoning widespread sharing on social media. It's the way of the times, and to ignore it would be archaic. As both participant in and observer of the "social media age," it's necessary to note the change in personal censorship over the last five years. 


"The idea of social media–having an audience and taking pictures for people to see–that's a scary thing. When I was young, things were simpler." 
-Sofia Coppola to W Magazine, June/July 2013 issue



Image: collage by Moshekwa Langa

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Repeat

What goes around, comes around


Fast fashion is great in that it allows for a quick succession of trends to parade by in a given season. It's (often) cheap, easily replaced and, just a few years later, perhaps regretted by its previous owner. Don't lie – you know you've stalked yourself on Facebook pre-2010 and wondered: "What, of all things, was I thinking? Wearing?

Fast fashion is fun, but the classic article will always reign supreme in my mind. I'm not sure why, but I've always had a thought of my future children and grandchildren rummaging through my old clothes, shoes and accessories, pulling out pieces that were, and still are, remarkably wearable. Maybe it's that I'm hoping to be a cool mom or grandma. Maybe it's a secret incentive for me to buy nice things that will last forever. Or maybe, it's the notion that there's something special about things that never go out of style. 


And here we are: Jean Shrimpton in a '60s Vogue UK shoot, wearing a lushly printed floral shirt, simple white skirt and low-slung pointed heels. Recalling recent runway shows, in comparison, sparks a reverse deja vu. Pointed shoes are boldly back – in flats, low heels and higher (Marc Jacobs, Louis Vuitton). Florals, while not presently new, are nonetheless here again. And a white skirt – whether pencil or mini – will never be gone. 

Photo: Jean Shrimpton in Vogue UK, April 1965 by David Bailey

Floral print top, Clover Canyon (on sale!); Quilted skirt, Topshop; Mary Jane mid heels, Marc Jacobs

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Just Because

On indulging oneself

As a college student, it's important for me to pay careful attention to my spending habits. My parents pay for my tuition and apartment, give me a monthly stipend and I do make a bit on my own, but money certainly isn't falling from the sky (and what a shame!).

Often, I become fixated on a certain thing, whether it be a pair of shoes, a beauty product or a specific colored Sharpie Pen, and think about it a little too much until I finally get it. (It's true, I couldn't stop daydreaming about the tropical-hued Sharpie Pens until I finally found them at Target a few weeks ago.) Unsurprisingly, my wallet cannot keep up, and these fixations soon turn into lists.


There are two categories of my mental material lists: attainables and unattainables. Attainables include things like a new Bauble Bar necklace, a silk blouse from J. Crew, a coffee table book, a refill of my favorite Philosophy lotion–affordable things that don't put a dent in my sad, sad bank account. Unatainables on my list are a Chanel 2.55 bag, a pair of black Christian Louboutin pumps and another David Yurman bangle.


O.K., yes, these lists are vastly contrasting. In other terms, attainables can be purchased multiple times a month, and unnatainables can be purchased about once a year. Impulse vs. calculated, affordable vs. expensive, and depending on who you ask, smart vs. stupid.


I think we all battle with the urge to buy. The advent of online shopping is certainly no help. I'll admit I look at Gilt, Hautelook and Shopbop every single day, although rarely buy anything. I often try to reason with myself: How many times will I wear it? What can I wear it with? How much use will I get out of it? It it classic? Will it hold up over time? There are so many considerations when making a purchase. I have to say that my shopping habits are quite calculated.


But what if I want something "just because?" If it makes me happy, isn't it worth it?


Not long ago, I discovered that I really wanted a Moleskine notebook to make lists and take notes in for my university's student newspaper, which I work for. Hemingway used Moleskines, so naturally, I needed one. A hot pink one.


For the uninitiated, Moleskine notebooks are leather-bound, usually small notebooks, sketchpads, journals and what-have-you that are often found in the possession of writers and artists. Since they're made of leather, it shouldn't come to a surprise that they're more expensive than your typical Five-Star notebook. This new friend was going to set me back about $20–hardly anything in the scheme of things, but my more sensible side was trying to convince me otherwise. After moments of inner argument, the hot pink leather notebook was mine.


The moment after I bought it, I thought, "Well, that was dumb. Here I am, a poor and hungry college student, spending $20 on a silly notebook." I was fortunate to have a friend with me who replied, "So what? You wanted it."


She was right. I did want it. And there's nothing wrong with wanting things, to buy things because it makes you happy and not only out of necessity. Besides, if I hadn't bought it, I would have ended up spending the rest of my life wondering what it would be like to own a hot pink leather notebook.
So the answer, wholeheartedly, is yes. Happiness from simple pleasures is indeed worth it.


Photo: Cher Horowitz, "Clueless"