addendum: detesting the ‘aesthetic’

squed
4 min readApr 12, 2023

continuing on from my previous article, i have finally lost a little bit of the crazy {impossible} that went into that piece. in fact, i actually reread something i wrote for the first time ever so! i was at the end of my tether with photo dumps, and probably instagram as a whole. with twitter not working anymore (like most things!) i had nowhere else to spend my time. i then promptly realised how much i actually hate the concept of it. like everything that i write though, i didn’t really know *why* i hated it.

as i said previously, i am not someone who is a full technophobe- social media is compartmentalised into a part of my brain that needs time to be wasted and little else. there is something so aggravatingly repulsive, that it always teeters towards ruining my whole life.

the word “aesthetic” is one that i hate to be used in that way. not just because it evokes powerful-ly terrible memories of what i got up to in my lockdown fervour, but because it is the culmination of my biggest societal pet peeve {ick? something along those lines. i can’t think of a better word}- the commodification of identity.

the first step in this idea is an extremely thorough tabulation of what makes someone, someone. some of this is borne out of a societal shift towards acceptance and tolerance- e.g. sexuality labels/pronouns/ethnicity- which is, a good thing! some of it comes from the fact that in our heart of hearts, we all want to be told that we are a specific, good thing, and that other people are this thing, so we can belong and survive and thrive and in a hundred thousand years, eventually create love island. where the problem arises from this though, is the marketisation of this fact. despite this, i wouldn’t call this a uniquely 21st century dilemma though. post-1945, a deluge of identities in the west were attached with a specific cultural touchstone, of which one should purchase if they really wanted to call themselves [insert identity here]. essential commodity fetishism- we attach inherent economic value to a product based on how valuable we view it to be, not how much economic value it can actually produce. however, with the swathes of cultural, societal, and biological research available to source at one’s mercy, the internal minutiae of people, the things that you can’t really change about yourself, were grouped and sold back to us under guises of things such as ‘dark academia’.

in reality, this means you like reading books, enjoy education, and have a slightly left-of-mainstream fashion sense. these are all very normal things! from my definition maybe i could class myself as dark academia or some bullshit analogue to that {of course, i am too annoying to be quote unquote dark academia, and would class myself as falling under much more of a ‘commiserating imp’ aesthetic, instead}. the more we know about ourselves, the more we feel that we can belong and truly immerse ourself in a group. where the insidiousness really seeps in, however, is that instead of being a new avenue for growth and human connection, our identities and perceived «aesthetic» has become another battleground to monetise.

not to tinge this analysis with a sense of retvrn hogwash, but with the secularisation and general diversification of society, a social ‘third space’ for people, outside of formalised settings like work and education, moved from being not monetised (but still, very problematic) to being a bastion of 21st century capitalism. sharing interests, whether they are the downfall of western civilisation or a festering wound on society, is a normal thing to do. meeting people through your hobbies can be very fun- i can attest to this, with my main hobby (being annoying) leading to me meeting some of my closest friends. the problem arises when we are restricted into presenting these as our only personality.

and this is where, finally, i return to the idea of photo dumps, and generally posting anything on instagram as a whole. it is the ultimate culmination of all of these- being both completely vapid and yet somehow of the utmost importance! we try so hard to curate an aesthetic to (what seems like) no avail! we are already intensely personal, and yet we attempt to distance ourselves from being genuine, which is somehow an appeal in and of itself. which is fun, i guess?

at the end of the day though, even my writing is a performance! metatheatre is a part of life we must all partake in, although perhaps with a little more hesitation than at present. i shall attempt to rectify the 5th (?) wall issues by attaching a fun fact to whenever i dare to actually quote unquote ‘post’. for example, my favourite colour is a nice turquoise. not the ones with too much green though. and with a subtle hue.

i will end this with my favourite line from my favourite tv show- crazy ex girlfriend. the day i write something about it is the day my blog becomes certified in existence.

‘je peux résoudre mes problèmes en faisant des fixations sur tous mes cafouillages et toutes les façons de foutre en l’air ma vie au-delà de toute réparation. si je réfléchis assez sérieusement je finirai par avoir la réponse, mais j’ai oublie quelle était la question.’

{roughly translating to ‘all i can think about is thinking about myself thinking about how to fix everything i’ve ever done wrong and all of the ways i’ve already fucked up my life beyond repair. if i think about it hard enough, eventually i’ll get the answer, but by then i’ve forgotten what the question was.’}

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