Outspoken and opinionated: two words which are practically synonymous with Karl Lagerfeld. A man I love, but many hate, has recently (well about a month or so ago), given his opinion on social media and funnily enough, I kind of agree with it. A post on fashionista.com brought my attention to his comments. Hilariously entitled “Karl Lagerfeld thinks your social media selfies are really sad”, the post quotes Karl from an interview with WWD in which he voiced his thoughts. Karl said the reason he wasn’t on social media was for privacy reasons (I’m paraphrasing here) and that he doesn’t want to share his life with people he doesn’t know. This is only the first part that I agree with. Secondly he said,
“Those social networks, there’s something sad about them. Is it because they don’t have enough knowledge about friends and people? I don’t understand it. It’s like a talkative mirror where people talk to themselves. And what I hate most in life is selfies.”
And oddly enough I agree with him on this part as well. Anna Wintour, in her Vogue 73 questions interview said that she had never taken a selfie and didn’t plan to start then. Maybe we should all follow suit. Anyway, I am going to approach this in two parts because what Karl has said is really two separate statements on the same topic.
When Karl says things, it often seems like he says them purely to shock and often just to annoy people. However, I think he hit the nail on the head with this one. His reason was to keep his private life private, something that none of us seem to do anymore. With social media dominating the world (honestly, it does), people are oversharers.
Because of Twitter and Facebook, people share almost every detail of their day with their whole friends list or following. Things that were once kept secret, or only told to a small group of friends, are now told to millions of strangers on the internet. From things that actually are interesting (such as somebody’s holiday photos of their trip to Australia or some other fun, faraway place) to the utterly dull (people saying that they are going food shopping or something along those lines) to the kind of disgusting (bitter arguments, toilet tales, drunken photos and tweets), people have no boundaries. There are some things that are not meant to be published. Furthermore, in my experience, I would say that social media has led to a lesser separation between work-life and home-life. In a day and age where almost nobody has a amiable work-life balance, being friends with colleagues on social media leaves you little space to breathe and take a break. I find it difficult to switch off from my work because even when I go home, I am still thinking about it. Every time I get a notification on Facebook, I instantly know that it is from my work’s Facebook group. I think that although social media has its many positives, it also has a lot to answer for: the diminishing work-life balance being one of them.
Following on from what Karl said about not wanting people to see his private life, he also said that he didn’t want to share his life with strangers – something that I fully believe in. Social media slightly scares me. The fact that you can connect with people all across the globe with an internet connection is a wonderful thing, I acknowledge that. But it is also kind of terrifying. There are so many bad, shady people out there who you would not want to cross paths with in real life, and probably wouldn’t ever really, but you could easily meet via social media. I’m all for privacy settings on social media, my entire online world is on lockdown. Paranoia aside, I often wonder why people would want to share with strangers on social media. Back when I used twitter (say 2011/2012), I had around 4000 followers, the majority of whom I had never met in my life, and I often questioned why they followed me. Why would you be interested in someone who tweeted song lyrics and random things that happened during their day? I have since deleted my account after about a year and a half of posting one tweet a month. Twitter became a very odd website to me. I failed to understand why it was so popular as I struggled to compose a tweet that I thought anybody would read and actually care about, hence why I deleted. If I have nothing worthwhile to say, I will keep quiet, both in real life and online. Instagram is a whole different story than Twitter though. Photos are different than words.
The difference for me is that Instagram is more anonymous. You don’t have to post your face, you don’t have to share your location and you don’t even have to post. You could probably do the same on Twitter but, really, the whole point of that website is to share your thoughts in the moment. On Instagram, I follow about 100 more accounts than what follow me. Many of these people I don’t know but it doesn’t feel as invasive as on Twitter. I don’t feel like I am intruding their thoughts in the same way. Some of my favourite accounts on Instagram belong to those in fashion who we all love: Nicolas Ghesquiere, Riccardo Tisci, Mario Testino, Snejana Onopka, even just Vogue. Sharing photos seems much more fun than sharing words because, after all, a picture is worth a thousand words.
In the same way as I feel that you shouldn’t say something if it is not worth saying, I also feel that you shouldn’t post a photo if it’s not worth posting. There are people who post, every single day, photos that are as trivial as their shoes on the ground and the view from their window but, fair enough, that is their prerogative. I, personally, post about once a month but I am just a little social media shy. Something that I am also shy about are selfies. I am not mad on them. I wouldn’t say that taking a selfie is the height of vanity but I would say that a certain amount is excessive. If you look and feel good, then go for it. But really, I do feel that there is nothing worse than scrolling through somebody’s profile and seeing it full of selfies. It does make you look a little vain, and also a little lonely. Like what Karl said, it does make people look slightly friendless.
Even if you’re not friendless, social media can often seem like you’re talking to yourself. I have experienced, on multiple occasions may I add, people whipping out their phones during social gatherings with friends and going on Twitter or Tumblr. Hell, I’ve even done it myself. Another issue that arises is the myth of the brilliant life that is seen on Instagram. Filters are added and only the best is shared, but overall it creates the illusion of a good life. The reason for this? We only share what we want to share. Nobody is going to post a photo of them at 6am, crust in their eyes, captioned “I woke up like this”: the “I woke up like this” photos are likely edited and they will most certainly not have just risen. Only the best parts of someone’s life is shared online, only what they deem worthy and interesting. I personally have spent literally an hour with my friends trying to get a photo that we all approve of to post online, just to get a measly 20 likes. The whole idea of Instagram seems to be to impress, hence why you have to put your best self forward. For that reason, I will probably stick to just liking other people’s posts.
I am going to place a bet right now and say that I will never have a job in Social Media for a fashion brand. I love fashion, and I embrace technology and the future, but I can’t fully get behind social media. It can be toxic and it can create a multitude of problems. It can also be brilliant though, let us not forget that. So for once, getting back to the root of this post, I think that Karl has actually made a comment that can be understood by many. Instead of stirring up controversy, I think he is talking some sense. Yes, what he says is a little extreme in some areas, but I think overall he is right. Social media can either be a saint or a sinner: well, that goes for the person behind the account anyway.