A role of an actor is to capture the essence of the character they're trying to play. If you think of the trope of "actors trying to make it", you'll often see them showing their "range", which is a typically done with a series of photographs showing various emotional states. Typically, actors would work for years to get this right, developings these expressions in front of a the mirror. However, times have changed. Now everyone has a decently quality forward-facing camera in their pocket. And boy do we know it. As a society in recent years, we've been obsessed with that small camera. The one tiny technological change that will define a generation. "Selfies" are so commonplace, that even those quotes around the word were perhaps unnecessary. These photos of one's own expression, typically reacting to a situation are now so commonplace, even my parents are beginning to take them.
But it doesn't just stop with the camera app built into your smartphone. Snapchat, an app that's come almost out of nowhere (since ~2014) promoted selfies and reactions that can be read in a small timeframe. The metric for a great snapchat is being able to understand it fully before the timer runs out. It's not just Snapchat, one could argue Vine and YouTube did this as well. Another great example is Musical.ly, an app for recording yourself lip syncing – How is it we can convey so much with just a silent movement of our lips?
I believe a generation of kids and young adults are now training themselves in the fine art of expression. Expression is a cornerstone of society, a way to tell someone what you're feeling without saying a single word. It's so deeply important for interpersonal communication and relationships, but often overlooked by its inherent subtlety. These are the very reasons why actors have to get it right – they have to be able to match society and play characters, down to the musty subtle of details.
Social apps are often bashed for pulling people apart with the common example coming to mind of a group of friends out for dinner, ignoring each other for the allure of an unread twitter feed. While that may be true to an extent, the video and picture messaging apps are having quite the opposite effect.
A generation is being trained to produce and better recognise expression. The consequence of this being that these people will be able to communicate better, feel more in sync and have more meaningful and deeper connections.
So next time you see a young person taking a selfie, don't smirk. Think. Be envious. That person will most likely relationships better than most of us can ever dream. And who knows, perhaps they'll win an Oscar one day.