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Culture

The latest, glorious selfie trend: sunburn art

Technically Incorrect: With the sun shining all around, have you ever thought of creating special shapes on your body for art using the sun's rays? The Batman logo, for example.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


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Is this art? Is it even necessary? #sunburnart/Instagram screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Messages crawl over my e-mail inbox like ants over a rancid apple.

On Wednesday, however, one rendered me temporarily insensate. It announced a trend of which I hadn't been aware.

I need to be aware of trends, otherwise I have no idea what progressive actions humanity is taking. In this instance, I was suddenly informed that humanity has gravitated toward sunburn art.

This is very much what you might imagine. You take the exposed parts of your body. You make your own clever stencils. Then nature beams itself upon you, the result being glorious patterns adoring your flesh without the assistance of a tattooist with a nose ring and a troubled attitude.

I was directed to the Instagram hashtag #sunburnart. There I witnessed sunburn patterns that varied from the possibly accidental to the certainly grotesque.

But everyone thinks they have an artist inside of them. Social media merely encourages this (mis)conception.

Naturally, not everyone feels enlightened by this fad. The Skin Cancer Foundation offered this observation: "Sunburns cause DNA damage to the skin, accelerate skin aging, and increase your lifetime skin cancer risk. In fact, sustaining five or more sunburns in youth increases lifetime melanoma risk by 80 percent. On average, a person's risk for melanoma doubles if he or she has had more than five sunburns."

The American Cancer Society mused: "There are bad ideas. Then there's this!"

I fancy this particular art form might pass quickly, as it takes a little too much effort to create something fetching. Laziness is one of the most powerful forces in humankind today.

But another powerful force is exhibitionism. We need to thrust ourselves upon social media with ever-more fascinating updates, so that we can remain interesting to our heartfelt virtual friends.

I wonder how many people are lying on the beach or by the pool today and wondering what patterns they can project onto their bodies.

How pained they will be if they discover, on posting their work to #sunburnart, that someone has thought of it already.