Lobotomized women have taken over. Their brain damaged faces, rested on spray-tanned carefully outfitted bodies, painted and polished, staring into the camera, are glowing images of disconnected senses. The women who stare at you confidently are competing for the Most of something, something I have yet to really understand.
Kara has spent a good deal of time this week outfitting herself, documenting it and revealing it to her audience on Instagram. The phenomenon of selfies and self-possession in general is necessarily more interesting to the person exploring themselves than to their audience. Still, people are amused by her photos. In my own life, I find selfies to be embarrassing demonstrations of how I spend most of my time alone. If ever I want a photo of myself whether it’s for public demonstration of activity or if it’s for a reminder of that time my dog and I saw swans at the park, I feel ridiculous aiming the camera my own way and posing as if someone is actually there, just for the illusion of company.
Creating Kara’s gallery of self-images took up significant portions of my day this week. The hair, the makeup, the lighting, the pose, the editing, the captioning, usually it’s an hour for one photograph, walking around my home sitting the phone on different surfaces and posing and posing and looking through the photos and discovering, always discovering new versions of her face in a light on an angle with the right background, it’s exhausting. It is also lobotomizing.
Historically, the process of lobotomy has been the purposeful damaging of the brain in order to prevent the over-stimulation of a mental illness. You may have heard the 19th Century lobotomizing process wherein a hole is drilled into the patients frontal cranium and Ethanol is passed onto the frontal lobes to prevent them from communicating with other areas of the brain. A muted personality persists following the procedure. A person who was a person would become a dummy, a marionette of normalcy, performing constantly without passion or overt sensation. Without full function of the brain, the individual transforms from a reactive, imaginative, creative and call it Mania or Hysteria or any specific diagnosis you wish but the ego is washed over precisely because it was too much for too many people.
Lobotomy is not usually a contemporary practice. It screams taboo, reminiscent of early “mental institutions” wherein people were entrapped into less-than-civil “remedies” for their illness. The word is scary, movie-like, hardly anything but an accessory to horror should it even happen. In it’s place, however, we have any number of brain damaging obsessions, primarily the cellphone, which has proven terrifying effects on the brain yet most of us sleep with them under our pillows.
I am not afraid of cellphones but I am currently completely in the weird about selfies. Each time I take my wig off after shooting Kara’s own portfolio of her manufactured face, I feel immediate exhaustion. I haven’t read a book all week. Normally I read at least two a week. But, I can’t think. I think I’m losing memory, no awareness of the day, no real responsible hold on activity. All I can think about is the reception of the last selfie posted and the invention of an entirely new one. Am I pulling off being this person? Do people like her? Am I doing this right? All other thoughts are tied in a trash bag and thrown under my brain as if killed and drowned by a mafia named Selfie.
What do selfies even give to the audience in question? “Hey here’s my face” might make sense from celebrities but why does the average woman on Instagram seem to think that her colour of lipstick is a must-witness by the entire world?
Instagram in general sometimes makes so much sense to me,as a means of collecting imagery regarding research topics or tutorials or maybe shots from celebrity role models who have something to demonstrate visually (the last one even feels like a stretch). Most of the time it is a means of showing off our faces, our bodies, sometimes our things. Fascinatingly, people want to see it.
In one week, Kara has accumulated 230 followers on Instagram. I’m not sure if that’s a lot but it isn’t hard to be found and followed when everything posted is a demonstration of cultural leadership. “Do this, buy this, wear this because I do it and look how beautiful it is”. Of course, Kara never cares whether or not people actually end up doing what she’s doing, all she cares about is their envy, their admiration and their subsequent followship. If she would really take the opportunity to use her photos for a thoughtful demonstration of cultural curating, she would be constantly thinking about socio-cultural patterns, market research, upcoming trends but that’s not what she is doing. She isn’t being thoughtful. She has damaged her brain with the obsessive, redundant creation and collection of self-images.
Kara’s lobotomy is evident in my own loss of thought, focus and presence. The sense that other women like Kara have also experienced lobotomies comes from their stacks of selfies which, if you scroll through, all look the same. Each woman has a sequence of images that look exactly alike, usually displaying the same trend in different colours or with subtle difference to this feature, that feature but all of them are the same face, the same look generally. Further to that, none of these Insta-galleries differ. Each woman seems to be imitating the next. Each individual becomes a completely muted personality, brain dead or at least they are ok with the appearance of absolute thoughtlessness.
It could be that lack of thought is a hint to where photographic beauty comes from. The relaxed and simple woman doesn’t censor herself in front of the camera, she won’t worry about how stupid it is that she takes time to make these images. Maybe it isn’t stupid. But, it is certainly an exercise limited in intellectual stimulation, an insult to the brain, really and incredibly exhausting considering how little is gotten out of the doing this both for the woman photographing herself and for her audience.
This week I have to invest time in some brain exercises or some kind of daily argument with someone I think is smarter than I am or time with a book. I am worried about the depletion of my brain. Clearly the brain takes a “use it or lose it” approach when it comes to servicing it’s given human.
I must seek forgiveness from my brain. I cannot go brain-dead from selfies especially when I know there are infinite number of things to do that have nothing to do with my face.
This blog is updated daily, detailing my transformation into a fictional character who is being crafted for a larger theatrical project. If you like it, please share to social media, follow the blog and come back soon
You can read Kara’s blog at http://www.okkarablog.wordpress.com
or follow her on Instagram @karakarrara