Shades of Grey: the relationship between digital personality and fashion sense

By: Alexandra Ponomareva, Economics and Management
Photo: Azamat Zhanisov,

The brain is perhaps the most fantastic part of the body. Occupying only a small space in the skull and weighting less than 2% of the total body mass, it controls our emotions, habits and actions. In short, it controls everything that we consider to be our personality. In addition, the brain is a smart machine which functions with maximum efficiency for minimal energy consumption.  

The task of each brain is to ensure its owner’s survival. The brain has evolved to satisfy three critical aspects: safety (including food and shelter), satisfaction of sexual needs and socialization. Thus, individual existence is partly dependent on involvement with others in the human community.   

Today, especially in Oslo, we are physically protected and have enough food and fresh water, leaving only two more critical needs to be satisfied. The wonderful world of digital technology offers us an opportunity to satisfy these remaining needs from the comfort of our homes with minimal energetic expense. Our efficiency-hungry brains are only too happy to attempt to satisfy our needs through a computer screen. 

Online, we are free to create our digital identity. We create phantom selves that are beautiful, smart, social, professionally successful, rich and eternally young.We explore relationships with the dreamiest partners in love-stories that would not be out of place in a Disney cartoon. Ironically, back in the real world, we struggle to understand human relations, but alongside our digital adventures these seem too challenging or boring to solve. Perhaps the sacrifices required by real human relationships ask too much of us, or perhaps they appear to offer too little in return. When our online lives offer such intense cortical stimulation at so little energetic cost, it is hardly surprising that our brains are easily hooked. 

Unfortunately, moving your life online is not without consequence. A life lived behind a screen drains us of the energy required to live a fulfilling life in the real world. Like J.K Rowling’s dementors, our devices deplete our life force, leaving little behind for our offline existence. This energetic crisis has precipitated a new approach to fashion, as social network influencers inspire burned-out individuals to redesign their offline selves in sharp contrast to the verve they display online. 

According to the new style, elegant suits and profuse colors are out, oversize shapes and monochrome uniforms are in. This kind of fashion requires less care, nor does it crumple. In today’s scene it is difficult to dress “wrong” – after all, “everything goes with black”. The Georgian designer, Demna Gvasalia, working with Balenciaga, achieved instant success with his first collection and others follow close behind. Louis Vuitton and Supreme have made fashion out of a style that was considered utterly ‘out’ only twenty years ago. Today, Gucci and Dolce and Gabanna sell high volumes of limited-edition black t-shirts with minimal embellishments at unimaginable prices. In other words, in today’s market, expensive simplicity is ‘in’. 

In recent years, fashion has divided into a kind of high art ornamented with rhinestones, feathers and elegant silhouettes only to be worn on special occasions. The remaining 364 days of the year, fashion is limited to sweatshirts and t-shirts whose only differences are the style of lettering displayed upon the wearer’s chest.  

Whilst a life clad in the ‘fifty-shades-of-grey’ sweaters championed by Instagram influencers might garner a few likes, the real world is passing by. However, it only takes a sudden account deletion or the loss of a phone for one to find oneself alone in the real world where the dream of being Mr. Gray, or even his mistress, is just that: a dream. Creating a new account will only temporarily ease the pain of loss; the specter of death that haunts our digital selves is always just around the corner.  

Photo: Maksym Shulha,
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