Stood in front of a Mayan ruin recently, with camera tilted just so. Careful to juxtapose a hint of modern day paraphernalia in reconstructing the perfect ubiquitous square crop…

…when the absurdity of it strikes me: why am I recording this subject in a way which thousands have done, arguably much better, before me?

And if all of these images are now so readily accessible, what is my tiny gram of insta’ momentary capture going to contribute to an ever more congealed and futureless present?

Am I recording this for prosperity, to tick off this momentous accolade, or is this just currency to bank as many ‘likes’ as I can? I haven’t discovered the damn thing. I check myself. This is one of the seven wonders of the world and I’ve always wanted to see this, so I continue my composition.

But all around me, without exception, everyone else is more preoccupied with trying to shoot themselves in front of it… framing perspective as to appear to be holding it… pushing it… jumping off it…

Maybe it’s just more interesting to see the person in front of it? After all, who wants to sit through a death by slideshow of landscapes. Perhaps a “Selfie” in this instance is a modern day personal postcard to share that Kodak moment and say… “Look at me, I’m here”. Maybe?

And I wonder if we’re so different to generations gone by. The Mayan’s were equally obsessed with their appearance: elaborate headdress; with snakes, animal skins, crocodile skulls, feathers… If they’d had a camera, it’s likely they would have wanted to take pictures of themselves and not some big stone tomb too? Although they may have been slightly more concerned with the religious, warfare, political, traditional and cultural implications of their attire…

So we’re all good then right?

Sharing (literally) everything

Oh, how we laughed when we thought Zuckerburg had lost it, paying $1bn for a photo app and some filters.

Rising above it.

But he instantly got the picture; and with it a clear view of the future that others didn’t see. How many of your investments have zoomed up 40x over the past 2 years? He may actually transpire to be one of the most successful CEOs of all time.

More images today are looked at than ever before, in a network of permanent observation. Incalculable streams of images are omnipresent all day, everyday — to the degree that it’s irrepressible and inescapable; you can’t help but consume.

And with the continued breakdown of significant distinction between our private and public lives: the ‘I’ve nothing to hide’ tribe are now ‘sharing every moment’, inflicting a feeling of guilty voyeurism upon the rest of us.

The whole ‘look at me here’ syndrome, recording a personalised picture postcard moment, is one thing. But when did you last return from holiday and put a close-up of your badly burnt bum on the staff notice board? Yet it pops up instantaneously on all of your colleagues social feeds whilst they’re digesting their morning news, on the other side of the globe, and trying to keep down their bacon.

This is no longer about keeping up appearances. We’re no longer exchanging cursory glances out the bedroom windows towards the new Ford parked outside No.42. Now we can log-on to see Mrs. Jones’ half naked camera self portrait in the family bathroom. Our apparent bashfulness has disappeared as quickly as the net curtains.


And everyone is now participating in this narcissistic obsession. From the gym bunnies to giant, Diet Coke drinking walruses — it’s ALL out there — in every untidy toilet and dressing room around the globe — and like the Pied Piper, everyone’s drawn into following their vacuous existence.



‘Oh mirror, bathroom mirror, on the wall, who is the fakest of them all?”

How did this become so acceptable, so quickly? Why aren’t these individuals ridiculed? Oh yes, of course, you can’t say anything negative on these networks in fear of being labelled, quite ironically, a troll.

So, quite the opposite has happened — a perfectly preserved ecosystem has emerged, where these ugly sisters (and brothers) are congratulated, which only fuels their perpetual egotistical dependence. Oh, and to ensure all egos are kept in check, at all times, don’t forget to pack your ‘Belfie-stick’ — everything you needed for your face, designed exclusively for your rear.



I can’t believe that compliments, from the oppositely sexed, can ever be received with anything other than a perception of perversion? But surely this is what perpetuates all this? Surely the greatest compliment would be if someone else wanted to take a photo of you? Wouldn’t that generate a higher level of gratification? Oh wait, no, that would be too intrusive…

Regardless, these starlets of Instagram are the new celebrity fashionistas — with phenomenal reach and influence. Not surprisingly, and quite rightly, they are finding easy ways to monetise their newly found idolisation, with boutique fashion labels queuing up to secure their services.

The Mayans would also reward their idols — their greatest heroes, strongest fighters, fiercest warriors — with the ultimate prize: decapitation — a swift but guaranteed departure to the afterlife. Perhaps we could adopt the same strategy, once these momentary celeber-nobodies receive their 10,000th ‘like’, congratulate them by staining the steps of The O2 arena?


The end of an era.

No one knows why but one day, the Mayans just up and left their glorious city in Palenque and headed to in Chichén Itzá to start over. Perhaps the jungle enveloped them? Perhaps they were bored? Perhaps the Spanish drove them away? No one knows…

But each cycle lasts a certain amount of time, replacing a period and creating a period of reconciliation, unlike this ‘tech revolution’, which is moving so quickly it could actually destroy the fabric of society.

This one was deadly. It’s real. The shark bit his leg off and he died from injuries…

shark attack

It is said that pride (or vanity) is the first of the seven deadly sins as it is from this sin that all others arise.


It’s also now proven — those who post a lot of their own self-images score higher measures of narcissism and psychopathy. Note to self: ‘like’ with caution.

Whatever happens, unlike the acres of ruins still to be reclaimed from the forest floor at Palenque, there won’t be any mystery surrounding how our generation lived. The millions out there, armed with a 4ft selfie stick (or Wand of Narcissus — the one item that I fear will personify our generation), will ensure every living moment is recorded, all in grotesquely glorious High Definition close-ups.

Yep, our 600 million years of existence has led us to this: the ability to photograph ourselves with an extended pole.

So, for the meantime, if you can’t beat them, join them — so I’m more than happy to have you tweet me for a limited edition selfie @jamesolden

James Olden