Roger is a Creative Director, writer and founder of Strange Animal, a virtual creative collective that provides brands with big agency thinking, without the big agency. An Emmy-winner with over 35 years of experience, Roger ran the “truth” national teen tobacco control account, has worked on global blue-chip brands like Apple, BMW, ESPN and AMC and hates talking about himself in the third person.
A young couple attempting to get the perfect selfie at the Grand Canyon inch their way to the edge of the cliff before falling 800 feet to their death.
A woman is severely mauled after climbing over a zoo enclosure to get a selfie with a jaguar.
A young, pregnant YouTuber shoots her boyfriend with a 50-caliber handgun while he holds a thick book for protection, killing him instantly and sending her to jail.
A 56-year-old woman struck in the head by shrapnel and killed during a gender reveal stunt gone wrong.
What. The. Actual. Fuck.
How did we get here? Seriously. Why is everyone so desperate to be internet famous? How did we get to the point where so many people are dying and getting maimed while filming social content that Wikipedia keeps a running list of them all? Check it out here.
The most obvious answer is, of course, money. The more followers social influencers get, the more brands flock to them, the more money they can make. Just ask 8 year-old Ryan Kaji who made 22 million dollars reviewing toys on YouTube. But I get that. It’s the gold rush of the digital era and I don’t blame people for the money grab frankly. In fact, right now I’m sure there’s a guy who reviews copy toner drums hoping to crack a new niche.
It’s the other people who aren’t looking to build their subscriber base that intrigue me.
The people who post messages to their long-since deceased relatives on Facebook. The people who post TikTok videos from the cancer ward to strangers about their spouse that just past away minutes ago. The people who pen long, glowing paragraphs about how wonderful their husband or wife is. Or how amazing, adorable and high-achieving their kids are.
Those attractive, half-naked, waif-like people on Instagram who post flattering photos of themselves taken at just the right angle, using several beauty filters and caption it with “Ugh. I am such a mess today.”
What do these people really want?
By now we all know that, like reality TV, nothing you see in social media reflects actual reality. In fact, one study showed that the people who post the most about how great their relationship is tend to have the most problems. Much has been written on the psychology behind this and I am too lazy to research it and regurgitate it here for you.
So I will just say this: we’ve become a global community dependent on external validation. We’re addicted to the dopamine rush from clicks, likes, comments and shares. You’re not immune.
Nor am I.
And while we are all unique and come from different backgrounds, ethnicities, countries and cultures, we all seek the same things which is why we mimic the same behaviors in the social space.
We all want to be loved.
We all want to be valued.
We all want to be heard.
But what if I said you already have all those things? What if you knew there are people who love and value you right now? Because there are. And that your voice is heard, you just don’t realize it.
Maybe it’s time to put the selfie stick down and focus on you from the inside.
It’s time to realize how much worth you truly have. How special you really are. Until we learn to love and respect ourselves, we will continue to chase something we’ll never really catch. Like a dog chasing its tail.
Remember that amazing sunset photo you posted that only got seven likes? Well did you like it?
Then that’s really the only like that matters.