Everyone I know has either a Facebook page, a tattoo, or both. Tattoos have been around for thousands of years. I wonder if they were the original social media?
Be careful what you put on the internet. The internet is forever. The oldest tattoo known is on ‘Otzi the ice man.’ Otzi is 5,300 years old. So when they say tattoos are forever, I believe them. Anthropologists say Otzi’s tattoos were probably therapeutic. Right. So was that picture you posted from the bar last night.
What do you mean forever?
Enjoy your fast food? LIKE it on Facebook! Tattoos have been used throughout the years to show support for tribes, countries, military branches, gangs, and any other group we belong to. Just like on the internet, these emblems publicize who we are. The fashion among Roman soldiers was to show loyalty to the royal house with tattoos of ivy leaves. In effect, they were “liking” their group.
What groups are you in? What do you like to do? Are you political, jovial, religious, skeptical, romantic? Are you devoted to family, your pets, or peace? Do you believe in saving the planet, or just the whales? Chances are there is a tattoo and a Facebook page just for you!
Friends proudly display symbols of status on their pages. Lavish cruises, trips to the spa, and wild adventures are available to envy for anyone willing to scroll down the page. Early tattoos also displayed symbols of status. Some marked lines of decent or exploits in war and other events. Modern inking might show how many lives one has taken, or how many children you have.
Social Media, in the wrong hands, can do real harm to a business or individual. Tattoos have also been used to punish or harm other people as well. Some ancient cultures tattooed their criminals. Few can forget the permanent numbers marked on victims of the holocaust. Slaves exported to Asia from the Roman Empire were tattooed with the words ‘Tax Paid.’ Next year I’m going to try that with my firstborn and the IRS.
Virtual hugs, ‘likes,’ and comments of support are restorative and contribute to our sense of well-being. Amulets or images of protection were sometimes tapped into the skin of those going to war, or who were sick or pregnant. Some of us wear elaborate crosses, stars, or angels to remind us we are part of something bigger.
Choose your privacy settings. Privacy settings are important to consider on both social media and body art. A design on the neck has been marked as ‘public.’ A tattoo on the breast is ‘private.’ If you can see the wearer’s tattoo, he is speaking to you. Is it peering out from under the cuff of his business shirt? It is not an accident. He is speaking to you. Is it taunting you from her lower back? She is whispering to you. Is it blaring you right in the face as you speak to him? He is shouting at you.
A privacy setting can tell us more about what is trying to be said. A heart on the shoulder says “I am romantic.” A heart on the derriere says, “I want to be romantic with you.”
Leave a comment. It is interesting to note that while we have all been taught that it is impolite to stare at others, most tattoos cannot fully appreciated without being stared at. There are women who wear their neckline down to there, and then complain that someone is staring at their cleavage. I have yet to hear someone complain that their tattoo is being stared at. One cannot wear a tattoo and claim it is not there to be seen. Is the popularity of tattoos a movement toward rejecting the polite mannerisms of our parents’ generation and daring others to stare?
Or are tattoos a way of getting around the disconnectedness of social media and other electronic communication? Are tattoos our way of asking people to comment? Are we using tattoos to help us state our status, support our cause and ask others to add us as their friend in real life?