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The origin of this quote dates to 3rd Century BC in Greece and only later became famous in print during the 19th Century. The common phrase is expressed in works from Shakespeare, John Lyly and in later years Benjamin Franklin.
We have all heard the term of phrase before, we see it in everyday life. Someone might be more attractive to you than to your friends, a piece of art might entice your taste while it might disgust another. The concept of art is to express a form of perspective; it allows us to see beauty depicted through someone else’s eyes. If we look at well-known artist like Pablo Picasso or read the works of William Shakespeare we are transformed into another world by our imaginations. Beauty comes in many different shapes, sizes, places and colors – there isn’t one definition. There never has been.
It is a surprising that in the last few years this notion has changed, from looking for beauty to come from others we now look at ourselves. We don’t ask the beholder to define our beauty, we define it. We are the ‘Selfie’ generation – it other words we are selfish. We are consumed by a secular perception of beauty; an idealist view to create perfection when life is not perfect. Our time and energy is spent on masking and editing until shapes, sizes, colors and tones are just right, so we can boast and share ourselves with others. A generation of people who have their heads down, cameras directed back at them and view in their mirrors. We live for likes, thumbs up and compete on virtual portals depicting a false reality of ourselves.
But, in the end we are alone. There is a fine line between self-empowered and selfish, sadly most of us fall into the latter category. The hashtag #selfie has more than 180 million pictures online, while #me has more than 290 million. With millions on social media posting about their lives, we feel pressure to compete in this world of ‘Me’. When we are portrayed through other people’s eyes we see things we never noticed before and we don’t like to give up that control – we want to be the beholders to our own beauty. We don’t like to leave our destiny in other people’s hands – we think we are the best at portraying ourselves. Yet, we don’t realise that Mona Lisa probably never thought her smile was something to talk about, but if not for Da Vinci we might never have seen the phenomenon she is today.
Our generation has lost the plot in many ways, we are so vain that life suddenly revolves in our little bubble. Our news feeds are filled with details of ourselves, we love to take selfies and describe our feelings, our actions and life experiences in 140 characters or less. The ‘It’s all about Me’ attitude is why we are dubbed the most narcissistic generation that has ever lived. In this new world where everyone can chase after their 15 minutes of fame, we have all decided to become the subject and we have forgotten about the artist.
The person behind the camera, the painter behind the brush, the sculptor behind the clay. Without them there is no art just mindless content. Not everyone can depict beauty, there are only a few who are blessed with this amazing talent. Yet, when you can become the clay why be the potter? As a self-empowered generation, we want to paint our own beauty and in doing so have lost the meaning of art.
*NOMINATED FOR A YAJA AWARD