Watching endless streams of our friends’ latest meals on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram has become an unfortunate, but seemingly constant, fact of life in the modern social media world.
But how far are we willing to allow this documentation to go? There is a growing trend to allow access to the most personal and intimate moments on social media – even the coming into and leaving of this world. Live-tweeting births made headlines a few years back, but now it has gone even further. Scott Simon, an American radio host, last month tweeted from his mother’s deathbed, prompting both outrage and admiration.
Is this the ultimate expression of today’s narcissistic culture? Is it invasive and exploitative, or just down right inappropriate? It speaks volumes that the airing of ‘Jade’, the documentary on Jade Goody’s cancer plight which led to her eventual death, knocked the finale of America’s Next Top Model off the top spot for audience ratings. Or is this documentation also liberating? Second wave feminism championed ‘the personal is the political’: against what they saw as the oppressive restriction of issues within the private sphere. Sex used to be a no-go area, and now you can’t pass a newsagent without glancing at a ‘Top 10 Tips’. Tasteful or not, we are left wondering what is left to share?