Measuring Up To The Rest of The World – Erika Prihadi

Before the internet, you didn’t need to have a quirky personality, be a social butterfly, or have a certain amount of money to be famous.

You just needed to be good at what you chose to do, and the world would find interest in you.

However, it is unequivocally clear that times have changed; the 21st century is much different from that. To be a ‘successful’ model, you have to either be born wealthy or have an interesting life to capture people’ interest. To be a ‘successful’ singer, you have to have a likeable personality, as well as fashion sense, opinions and essentially the ideal archetype of perfection. Make no mistake, or the media will turn into a slaughterhouse under your name. Since when was being a publicized singer or model also equal to being perfect? I can’t tell if this is a cause of the fast-paced technology life we all overindulge in, or just simply the change of times and people collectively having new interests in their ‘idea’ of the media: the idea of being perfect and somebody to envy. For a teenager, it can be rather scary to think about active social media celebrities, who have millions of people watch everything they do and pinpoint every mistake they’ve made.
Maybe we’ve evolved to be a judgemental society. But why is that? And how did this happen? Since when did we care so much that Kylie Jenner’s comment on Instagram replying to her own sister appears on news articles?

The answer: mobile phones. Since the internet, people have lost interest from waiting. For anything. Maybe it’s the exposure to everything instant: instant messaging, instant posts, instant comments, likes, follows, music releases… everything. Everything tangible we buy, we can probably get digitally on our mobile phones. For instance, Netflix: a glorious source of entertainment to have at a time like this. Instant-movie binging. We are no longer the generation of waiting until a certain time to watch just ONE episode of our favourite tv show, or to even buy the CD because CDs are no longer selling in the market. Same goes for music; before our generation, when an artist released a new song, people would have to tune into the radio and wait to hear it or buy it at the CD store before it sold out. Maybe it’s that rush of excitement to run to the mall before other people do. The fact that not everyone would get to own that CD just made it 10 times more special and valuable. Or maybe it’s that anticipation while waiting for the radio to play. Miss it and you’d have to wait for the next air. People didn’t have comment sections, likes, or follows to worry about.

 

Because before, people weren’t constantly exposed to everyone else’s business, it didn’t feel important. Instead, they were busy with their own lives, investing in themselves. “Too much of anything isn’t good for anyone,” said Ray Bradbury, the American author. True. We gorge on instant social media, then we instantly become obsessed. I mean, if the trend now is to be public with our everyday life, maybe it is just an instinct to be as perfect as possible.

Haven’t social standards become artificial enough since the creation of the online world?
Pressure on body and facial images have never been so radical. People notice the miniscule and irrelevant insecurities within themselves in the process of trying to mimic their idols that they aspire to be like and follow the footsteps of. However, we shouldn’t be so quick to point fingers on social media itself. It sounds more realistic that we’ve dug our own graves. We are too involved in an artificial world and we care too much about other people’s business. Norms in society itself are an imagined order, as said by Yuval Noah Harari in the novel Sapiens. Everything from what it means to be a man or woman to social hierarchy is all a figment of the human imagination built over time by many, thus eventually becoming inter-subjective. Once again, we have dug our own grave. Have we set a trap on ourselves thinking that a more instant and socially-engaged life would create instant happiness?
”With great power comes great responsibility,” said Peter Parker on Spider-Man, or author Stan Lee.

This society here is the great responsibility. People can feel more powerful behind a screen. So powerful, that speaking their mind carelessly is not deemed unorthodox. Freedom of speech on the internet is what makes it great, but people tend to confuse constructive criticism to just plain hateful comments. Why do people feel so powerful on the internet? It is because they are not directly held responsible? They have enough time to just change their username and remain anonymous? No matter how ‘perfect’ someone can be, people will always find flaws to pick on. And it’s no wonder we crave perfection. It may be easy to criticise others and say things that don’t seem a big deal to us, but hate comments can actually destroy self-esteem. It might be that we are behind a screen, but behind that screen is still a human. We have feelings and insecurities.

In fact, public figures depend on public input for their job. Make a mistake and the media will turn into a slaughterhouse under your name. Maybe we can try to be more mindful of one another? We’ve discussed the responsibility. Well, what is the great power, you ask? Well today, everyone can become who they want to be. A singer, dancer, or social influencer. It is so much easier to get recognised. You don’t need to wait until a producer discovers you singing on the streets, or work as entertainment in cafes to get a crowd — because the internet has got your back. Your personal interests are no longer limited to what they air in your city or what they sell in your local mall. Distance is no longer a factor to stop you from opportunities.
I guess that is the beauty of it. The internet is where I found my passion for music.
The internet breathes half of my soul, sad to say the least. Where would I be today without it? About 95% of my music inspiration comes from artists that I barely hear on the radio. 50% of them have never even had a live concert in my city. It’s fair to say that I would not be the person I am today without the internet. The internet allowed me to explore genres and find my own authenticity. I feel that I have potential for something great and everyday I strive to become better and better. However — newsflash — everything goes the same with the rest of the world. There will always be someone more passionate, creative, unique, and hard-working than I am. As I dive youtube for young artists my age, I stumble upon many with great talents, visions, artistic intentions, crafts much more intricate than mine, experiences more vast than mine and stories much interesting than mine.Then I thought to myself:
Why aren’t these people top billboard artists? Why is there an ocean of underrated talent going unnoticed? Maybe it wasn’t their time or luck yet but it also made me question my own self-worth as an artist. If being that good wasn’t enough, was I enough?

It seems so much to measure up to, but at the same time, not really. Michael Jackson was famous for being the King of Pop, Whitney Houston for her outstanding vocal abilities. Music in the past was really something to live up to, something I, as a teenage girl can only dream to one day become. But today, hopes of my dream coming true is not a mere fantasy. It is no-one’s fantasy. Just a funny meme on Instagram or a TikTok dance is enough to get me on NBA All-Star Weekend or Tonight’s Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Short-lived, but still considered, fame. What a time to be alive! It’s safe to say that everyone has an equal chance at fame now.

Ironic because just 20 years ago, there were approximately 1,666 billion less human beings than 2020 today. But today, no human will go unrecognised. Thank you internet! The world certainly does not revolve around me and a constant reminder can be humbling. A part of me does feel anxious about self-image, but a part of me is also trying to tear down that stigma in my brain. A colossal building of teenage anxiety filled with: what will I be? Am I good enough? Will I ever be good enough? So instead of shaping a vain society, the internet could be used to inspire others, or create a community. There is so much we can invent, question and find answers to. Many movements have already been made for different interests, and having more people involved will make our imaginary society a more worthwhile and productive place.
9 Points


4 thoughts on “Measuring Up To The Rest of The World – Erika Prihadi”

  1. Martin Hartono says:

    This is a very well written piece of work. The internet and all its advances only exposes half the truth about humanity. Keep in mind that today’s internet technologies have limitations on the amount of senses that we can use. Humans have 5 senses (sometimes 6), but we are limited to only 2 or 3 when we use today’s technology. Thus, the half truths. Therefore, many people become meaner when they interact with social media. Lack of senses.

    When it comes to fame, there are more choices that can offer you instant fame. But easy come, easy go, right? We need to tell the difference between vanity metrics (likes, retweets, comments, fans, views, etc) vs metrics that really matter for what you want to do. If you are an e-commerce seller, it does not matter how many IG followers or likes if you cannot sell even one of your products. Same goes with musicians. Youtube views is probably not as important compared to the Spotify monthly listeners or how many people would want to pay to see them perform.

    As to your question on why some musicians with good music only gets noticed a little? They just gotta be able to consistently produce good music, that’s it. Trust me, people in the music industry notice. We just need to be sure that you are not a one trick pony. Gotta work the market. Greatness does not come in one (or two) instance, it comes with consistency.

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