The Brand Generation

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It’s been a few years since I’ve been to Coachella. My experiences there were kind of magical to say the least. However, times have changed my friend, and there’s something about being surrounded by drunk celebrities in the desert that doesn’t really appeal to me anymore. Sure there’s the music and there are the hotel parties afterward, but in it’s recent years I feel as though it’s morphed into this- who can wear the coolest flower crown- kind of event.

Granted, I am getting older and I’m aware my view on this may be because I’m not cool anymore. But something else occurred to me while perusing the Instagram photos of the music festival… these kids really know how to BRAND themselves. There’s this very realized version of people, even when they are are so young and it makes sense since they grew up in an age where your persona is everything.

Warning: I’m about to sound super old… but I remember way back when people didn’t take pictures of their food or their new hairdos (I did this just yesterday) for all the world to see. Still, what I wore in high school was an expression of who I wanted to be associated with. To be honest, it was a mixture of that and my own creative self at work, mixed with -me trying to be cool. It wasn’t refined. It was more of a rebellion against how people perceived me “The girl next door who contracted AIDS from her street kid boyfriend on General Hospital.” I wore white doc martins instead of black ones, for example, which back then were considered even more “punk-rock.” Don’t ask me why.

Now, it’s difficult to know that if I had access to social media as a teenager if I would’ve been able to brand myself as well as teenagers do today, but I have to assume that it would’ve been an irresistible way of communicating with my peers. The question I have is: do kids feel pressure to be something so specific at a young age? Do they feel trapped by the persona they’ve created for themselves? Or does it feel like an individual right to freedom and expression?

I suppose my concern is, will this Brand Generation as I like to call it, ever really be able to figure out how they truly feel about things while constantly having to posture to the internet community?  Is it just because I’m old that this seems like it would be a lot of pressure?  As someone growing up in the public eye, I can see how I might be hyper sensitive to these things. But to kids today, it seems so natural, whether you’re a celebrity or a 10 year-old  gamer from Idaho everyone has the potential of being an internet sensation.

This brings to the thing that really stumps me… youtubers. To the naked (old) eye, this may seem like a bunch of talentless narcissists word vomiting all over their computer screens. However, kids are fascinated with these types of personalities/online celebs. Thus, it perpetuates the issue of  “being famous for being famous.” Of course there is nothing wrong with every person who ever lives having their 15 minutes of fame, but do these people have any real talent? Do they have anything to say? In spite of this new culture, my hope is that young people continue to develop their talents and crafts in a way that’s maybe not so public. We should all be allowed to fail and pick ourselves up again, in private… right?

I don’t have children (yet) but I know this is an issue that is not going away anytime soon or possibly ever. Communication is good, no doubt, and the internet provides a forum for endless communication. I guess what I’m really getting at is privacy and the ability to have an experience that isn’t exploited every five seconds. Like Coachella for example, can we experience the music more and talk less about our outfits (Day 1 and Day 2).? That is the reason you go to a music festival- to see musicians and bands you love perform and inspire the crowd… right?

Love to know your thoughts. Email me info@kimberlymccullough.com

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