Tag Archives: tattoos

How is Getting a Tattoo Like Facebook?

by admin

Maybe I am still on the delerious side from this recent flu/strep/something or other that took me down like a cowboy in a calf roping competition.

Anchors: not just for sailors anymore!

But consider this: the growing popularity of tattoos.  Why?  Tattoos are external.  Tattoos are often art, though some use them to commemorate people or events.  But even commemorations need to be artistic at worst, creative and beautiful preferably.  It has been striking me more and more as I look around my community and see more and more ink.  I’ll be honest: I am surprised when I don’t see a tattoo on someone now.

I personally don’t know if I’ll ever get a tattoo, for a number of reasons.

  1. I have never seen an image of anything I liked so much I wanted it on permanent display on my body.
  2. The whole trend seems to smack of high school: “I want to demonstrate my uniqueness… by doing what everyone else is doing!”
  3. I am not convinced that tattoos will look good at all as people age.
  4. There is something in the Bible’s Old Testament about not marking up your skin.  Yeah, it’s in the Levitical Law so it not perfectly clear that it would apply to Christians today, but then there is the whole “God gave you the body you have: who are you to try improving on it?” argument too.

But what occurred to me the other day was a wholly new thought for me.  Tattoos represent our culture’s growing emphasis on the external.  External beauty.  Yes, I said growing.  I know for years, probably decades people have tried to change that, telling people they are beautiful just the way they are, beauty is in your heart, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and a million other platitudes, but those that say those things are losing.  External beauty is still getting more and more weight and taking up more and more of people’s lives and money.

Of course, part of the problem is Hollywood the entertainment industry media who are convinced that the news, movies, and TV shows won’t sell unless attractive actors are used – even as extras.  This means that everyone’s entertainment choices continually reinforce our own imperfections to measure up to the normal “beautiful” people.  We continue to see ourselves as ugly and invest more and more money to fix that.  Tattoos are a piece of that.

Tattoos cross gender lines.  Yes, some metrosexuals and the new spornosexuals  may get into some low level makeup, but the vast majority of makeup users are still women.  Women work to achieve fitness and “lose fat” but men generally work to build muscle – women (and may I presume gay men) don’t find ultramarathoners attractive.  Personal attractiveness is key – do everything you can to look perfect.   Tattoos are a part of that – now equally popular on both genders.  They can not only bring attention to your skin, get people looking at you, but they also can tell your story.  And as an added bonus, for some they may be used as a distraction or concealer for something they don’t like about themselves.

But what do tattoos really do?  Youtubers Rhett and Link wrote a song about Facebook… it’s a little dated as Facebook has evolved substantially in the last 3 or 4 years, but think about these lyrics:

“If the internet crashed all across the land, or my Facebook account was deleted by the man I’d carry around a picture of my face and a summary of me typed out on a page…”

When I ask people why they have tattoos, they talk about how the tattoos speak about themselves, their passions, their feelings, their children, their loves, their losses.  their lives.  What are their tattoos then?  A summary of themselves typed out on their skin.

Which leads us to Facebook.  I’ve been on Facebook for a long time.  In the last few years I have been questioning my use of it more and more, and making this last connection may be enough to put me over the edge and take down my profile.  Facebook is completely about the external.  The whole internet is really about the external.  If you really write about something you feel passionate about, you guarantee someone on the internet thinks you are wrong and you are going to get blasted about it.  Which has led to the place where we are at now where you have to “like” or “share” every single thing to prove you’re “good”.

But both of these things, I have contended, are symptoms of the problem of superficiality.  And I don’t know how to stop these trends.  I know I don’t want to fall prey to them.  So add that reason to my list of why I am one of only a handful of people I know who don’t have a tattoo.  And add that to my list of why I am seriously considering stepping back from Facebook.


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