“If you see beautiful photos of your friend on Instagram,” she postulated, “one way to compensate is to self-present with even better photos, and then your friend sees your photos and posts even better photos, and so on. Self-promotion triggers more self-promotion, and the world on social media gets further and further from reality.”
Technology has so democratized image-making that it has put the artistic power once mainly associated with aristocrats—to stylize your image and project yourself to an audience as desirable—into everyone’s hands.
“Oil painting, before it was anything else, was a celebration of private property. As an art-form it derived from the principle that you are what you have,” Berger wrote. “It is a mistake to think of publicity supplanting the visual art of post-Renaissance Europe; it is the last moribund form of that art.”
Glamour cannot exist without personal social envy being a common and widespread emotion. The industrial society which has moved towards democracy and then stopped half way is the ideal society for generating such an emotion. The pursuit of individual happiness has been acknowledged as a universal right. Yet the existing social conditions make the individual feel powerless. He lives in the contradiction between what he is and what he would like to be. Either he then becomes fully conscious of the contradiction and its causes, and so joins the political struggle for a full democracy which entails, amongst other things, the overthrow of capitalism; or else he lives, continually subject to an envy which, compounded with his sense of powerlessness, dissolves into recurrent day-dreams.