Nicole Scherzinger: Natural Life on the Screen

“Hawaiian Sunset in the evening”, superstar Nicole Scherzinger described the photo she posted of herself onto Facebook. Next to that was the exclamation: “no filter”. What this implies is that this photo is entirely “au natural” and no digital effects have been used to enhance this remarkable photo of a sunset in Hawaii. However, this is not a photograph of a sunset in Hawaii is it? This is, first and foremost, a photograph of superstar Scherzinger, set against a beautiful Hawaiian Sunset in the evening. The sunset fades in significance; the human dominates nature.

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Assuming Scherzinger posted the photograph herself, and not her publicity team, she then commented on her photograph: “God’s beauty”. Now my question in response to this is: is she referring to herself? since her face and hair takes up almost seventy five percent of the photograph?, or the Hawaiian Sunset? As a matter of personal taste, if I did believe in God or intelligent universal design then I would be happy to consider that Scherzinger is, indeed, stunning. However, to post a photograph of your own self and exclaim “God’s beauty!” would strike me, as the sort of thing an entirely self-obsessed narcissist would do, wouldn’t it? Not the most attractive personality trait.

The other hashtag comment that niggles me is the claim: “simple life”. I can only consider that this is a reference to the au natural appearance of a celebrity who has decided to post a photograph of her self without makeup, whilst enjoying the great outdoors. One of the big problems is that by uploading a photograph to a digital social network of eight million followers (nearly the population of London) on Facebook then we can hardly consider this the “simple life”. Rather, the by-product of the digital, social networking age, which is densely complicated in both a technological and social sense.

Many evolutionists rather than creationists tend to consider that humans are natural, a part of nature, and therefore the technological products of human culture are also natural products. Personally I think it stands to reason that we should attempt to make some distinction between “natural” and “artificial”, certainly it would help in defining and labeling “Green” or “organic” food for legal purposes. Scherzinger is clearly happy to make the distinction between a natural photography and an artificially enhanced photograph, without however acknowledging the digital media technologies and network that mediate her to her followers. (There are layer upon layer of digital processes involved here). This is a digital photograph; digital effects have been used.

I am not entirely happy to accept that this is a photograph of a Hawaiian sunset, nor is it a photo of a human enjoying a simple life, rather this is another “boast-post” put about on social networking media to establish a presence within a network of online, digital socialites. These are a new generation of web-surfers who use social networking media to promote themselves to audiences: “Life on the Screen” as Sherry Turkle once termed the physiological condition and dawning era.

Some degree of critical analysis needs to take place here. Why on earth would anyone consider this a statement of simplicity, naturality or God’s intent? To my mind this exposes a problem with social networking media. It transforms us into full-time workers, constantly generating content within our personal leisure lives as well as our work lives. What could have been a break from work becomes a part of work; the boundaries that separate work life from private life have eroded. The natural world, and our appreciation of it, has faded into insignificance in light of the human ego. Nature becomes another resource, “nature capital”, for self-promotion.

Lastly, digital media and the ability for users to generate their own media content calls into question the idea of “ideology”. Given that users can now create their own ideology, then by doing so we should gather some idea of how ideology works, given the kinds of responses we get from the other users we present our ideologies to. This is new for humans to some extent in so far as mediated ideology was part of a “top-down” media industry used by power elites for propagating war, cultivating needs to sell commodities or generating support for political parties. There has always been some degree of “lying” in ideologies that critical theories have attempted to highlight. Given that greater amounts of social media users can now generate their own ideologies, and see the affects on other users, and gather an understanding of how ideologies work, then I find it strange that humans find it necessary to present an ideological “natural” self (even without filters) rather than a real representation of the natural self. I would guess that the natural self is extinct. The only natural self we have is that one that dominates nature and circulates on real and virtual social networks. We should distinguish between the two.

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