Teens' "Be Real" Values
Social Media and Who We Are
Why is TikTok so popular among Generation Z? It’s because of their values toward social networking sites.
While social networking sites have become an option for us to express “who we are” to the world, they have also produced content that feels performative and fake. As digital natives who have become accustomed to such a variety of content, they are in search of something different, something “real”.
BeReal, a social networking service that allows users to post an unfiltered photo once a day, has been downloaded more than 20 million times in less than two years. The WIRED article describes the trend as nostalgia for the early days of social networking, when there was not even the concept of “thriving.
Of course, it is impossible to categorize Generation Z into one type, but in the following opinion pieces, we will take a deeper look at the “real” values they seek.
Either a Photogenic or a pretense.
TikTok has been delighting users with a variety of effects and filters, but its latest, “Bold glamour,” is causing a stir.
The experience of having sophisticated machine-learning filters transform one’s face into something completely different (chiseled cheeks, thick, sexy lips, etc.) has been received with serious concern by some users and experts.
Various studies have suggested the detrimental effects of filters imposing “unrealistic standards of beauty,” especially on young women. Meta internal document reported by WSJ, one out of three teenage girls say that looking at Instagram exacerbates their concerns about their body shape. Also, according to CDC’s 2021 report, 57% of teenage girls felt chronic sadness or hopelessness. This is double the number of boys their age and 60% increased since 2011.
Perhaps behind the popularity of social networking sites such as BeReal is the psychology of trying to escape the obsession of always having to be attractive.
Looking back on my own experience, there was a time (mainly during the job hunting period) when I tried to enhance my career and other external aspects, although I had nothing to do with enhancing my appearance. When I received recognition for my performance, I felt both joy and a sense of emptiness that my true self had not been recognized.
The desire to make oneself look good and the desire to be accepted as one’s true self are both equally natural and strong. We, and the media, are expected to strike a balance between these two opposing emotions.
Year 2000 Fashion Revival
The so-called “Y2K” boom, a common name given to a trend dating back to the late 1950s and 2000s, was fueled by the widespread adoption of the Internet and technology, which led to a culture of digital and vivid fashion and gaming. Today’s so-called Generation Z has become more active in embracing vintage clothing, mainly because this generation has become more ethical and conscious of sustainability and social change. From there, influenced by the culture of the 90s, the “Y2K” craze has returned with a modern update.
2000's Icon Becomes Modern Fashion Item
Crocs, a worldwide sensation in the early 2000s, is about to see the light of day once again thanks to the resurgence of Y2K fashion. The once-easy-to-wear sandals have been transformed into iconic footwear in the modern era, with collaborations with Balenciaga and Salehe Bembury creating a buzz. The Echo collection, released at the end of last year, is a comfortable and stylish looking item that will be useful in various situations, including street scenes and outdoor activities. We look forward to seeing more Y2K items in the future.
De-Influencing and Credibility
A new trend among TikTok beauty influencers is “de-influencing,” telling viewers what they should not buy. It seems to be driven by a growing distrust of influencers who are willing to lie and deceive over corporate deals. Transparency and authenticity are also more highly valued by consumers on social networking sites.
BeReal vs. Instagram
BeReal, a social media app founded in 2020 by French entrepreneurs Alexis Bareillat and Kevin Perrault. Users can take a 2-minute photo in two directions using the full and rear cameras with a notification sent randomly once a day. There are no filters and it has an ephemeral nature that disappears when the next notification arrives. Processing restrictions and the pursuit of real-time features increase user confidence. On the other hand, the rise of “casual Instagram” has also been noted on Instagram. It is said to express a “studied carelessness,” with an emphasis on natural lighting and light makeup. While not quite a move away from performance, users seem to be shifting the direction of their dissemination in order to gain trust or achieve a healthier online life.