Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last week, you’ve probably heard about Socality Barbie, the plastic Instagram star who brilliantly parodies hipster-esque outdoorsy accounts down to the tiniest detail.
I have taken a few (but really, just a few!) of the types of photos she mocks and have consumed – and enjoyed – many more. I think she’s hilarious. We can all laugh at ourselves a little bit, right?
What I like the most about her, though, is that she has opened up a discussion about the meaning of authentic nature experiences in our highly technological and world. She has broken the ice on what has become a big trend in photography and on social media: staged photos of people who appear to be so in the moment.
When I first shared the link to Socality Barbie on my personal Facebook page, the responses ranged from “Yes! I love Instagram but this is hilarious!” to “Yes! I hate Instagram. Everything is so fake.” Responses in the blogosphere have both praised and lauded her – thanking her for making light of these oh-so-serious outdoor photos and blasting her for being a bully.
If nothing else, she has definitely gotten us talking.
I’ve had an Instagram account for a while but it wasn’t until this past year that I began to use it to follow people beyond my circle of friends. I had always thought of Instagram as a place to share pictures of your kids, dogs, and desserts and was, honestly, blown away by some of the photos I saw there. There is some insane talent on that little corner of the internet.
And when I started noticing all of the stunning and obviously staged photos of beautiful people in beautiful places? I was all in. I followed a ton of those accounts. Who doesn’t like looking at pretty pictures?
But after a while I started rolling my eyes just a tiny bit at some of the things that I saw. The most grating, to me, were the people posting serious-looking photos of themselves, staring off into the sunset, coming up with big answers to big questions …. while blatantly holding a selfie stick in their hand. Nothing about that feels authentic. It just looks silly.
I don’t mind the staged, perfectly lit photos on Instagram (or anywhere else) because I see them as art. And while they have certainly strayed from the original purpose of Instagram (yanno, the “Insta” part?), they’re beautiful to look at and can be examples of great photos made by very skilled photographers. The image that these photos show (the perfect pour over coffee made on the top of a mountain? the woman wrapped in a Pendleton blanket, gazing off at the ocean?) may not be authentic in that very moment but the feeling that the photographer is trying to create is. That’s not inauthenticity – that’s photography.
We all know that, while those moments may certainly happen, life does not look like an Instagram feed. Does anyone really believe that people spend that much time walking on train tracks in fancy wide-brimmed hats? We all know that this is rarely what life looks like. I’m ok with that.
But I’m also bored with it.
After following a ton of these accounts in my early days of Instagram, I’ve started to jump ship and put the unfollow button to use. I keep some of these accounts around because the photos really are gorgeous to look at, but I want to see something different. It’s not the staging of photos that bugs me (because, let’s be honest, most great photos ARE staged, at least to some degree), it’s the repetitiveness of it all. It’s seeing the same types of pictures taken in the same places over and over again.
Show me something different. Show me something that looks authentic – or at least doesn’t look exactly like everyone else’s version of authentic.
Socality Barbie’s brilliance is in her ability to nail the tiniest details of an entire genre of photos and to make us laugh at the silliness of it all. And I’m totally on board with that.
What are your thoughts on Socality Barbie? Is she funny? Mean? Both? Tell me what you think!