︎ What does it mean to be special?
Written by Giacomo Felace
It used to be possible to sustain unique differences through time and space, relative to a certain sense of audience. As long as you were different from the people around you, you were safe.
But Internet and globalization fucked this up for everyone. In the same way that a video goes viral, so does potentially anything. The chance that you and Dua Lipa wish upon the same star is greater than ever. The assertion of individuality is a rite of passage, but generational branding strips youth of this power. Belonging to your generation becomes an inescapable truth — you’re a Pisces whether you believe in astrology or not.
At the same time, responsibility for generational behavior is partial at the max. “It’s not you, it’s your whole generation”.
For a while, age came wrapped up in a bundle of social expectations. We’re left using technological aptitude to divide the olds from the youngs — even though moms get addicted to Instagram, too.
Demography is dead, yet marketers will invent another generation on demand. Brands are desperate to adapt. But to what?
Generational linearity is gone. An ageless youth demands emancipation. The increasing density of online established and maintained human interconnections formed new socially significant clusters.
Today everyone concentrates so hard on what makes them unique and special that they end up in a state of sameness due to their preoccupation with proving their difference. There is a proliferation of tech startups with names that all end up almost indistinguishable from one another, marketing agencies that "we are a different agency" and plenty of design studios seeming like a clone.
The truth is that the details that distinguish you are so small that nobody can tell you’re actually different. Proclaiming yourself different will only manifest a lack of personality. Different is an empty word. Like a pretty girl who wears a T-shirt that says “I’m a pretty girl” is not saying anything.
The idea to be special is no longer limited to young people. Now the crisis of being special is everyone's crisis because of social media and globalisation.
One of the ideas of contemporary society is that it tricks us into thinking we are celebrated because of our difference, when in fact what we're seeing is homogenization and mainstreaming of difference.
This is more an observation of something we all participate in rather than a declaration of a cultural crisis but it is problematic in terms of alienation and a lack of real cultural innovation. Express who you really are and if you are special, time will tell.