February 6, 2015

My Selfie, My Self.


I have a confession to make—I don’t like selfies.

The irony is not lost on me. As a keen hobby photographer, my favorite subjects are people. I

n the past, I have posed for various photographers and consider many of their photographs of me prized possessions. I have also taken pictures of myself, but I don’t care for selfies, or at least not enough to take them and post them on social media sites.

However, I appear to be the minority.

Social media is filled with selfies. Everyone-from middle-aged soccer moms to celebrities are taking them. Even my five year old daughter, who attends a Waldorf School knows what they are.

Selfies are so ubiquitous that Kim Kardashian-arguably the queen of celebrity selfies—published a book last year, aptly named Selfish, that was nothing but them.

Despite the claims by some that selfies are passé, they don’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. Indeed, even some cosmetic manufacturers have jumped on the bandwagon. Dior Cosmetics has a line of foundation geared specifically for selfies.

As tempting  as it is to call the selfie craze harmless, the truth is it can have a darker side: A Colorado plane crash that occurred last year appears to have been the result of the pilot being drive to distraction by taking selfies.

There is also research that indicates that selfies can have a negative impact on young people’s self-esteem.

While some may chalk it all up to simple narcissism, I tend to believe it goes deeper than that, in some cases.

Rather, I believe a lot of it stems from the need to simply remind others—and even ourselves—that we exist. Because we fear if we do not, then we will be forgotten about or ignored.

“Why is it we want so badly to memorialize ourselves? Even while we’re still alive. We wish to assert our existence, like dogs peeing on fire hydrants. We put on display our framed photographs, our parchment diplomas, our silver-plated cups; we monogram our linen, we carve our names on trees, we scrawl them on washroom walls. It’s all the same impulse. What do we hope from it? Applause, envy, respect? Or simply attention, of any kind we can get? At the very least we want a witness. We can’t stand the idea of our own voices falling silent finally, like a radio running down.” ~ Margaret Atwood fromThe Blind Assassin.

If Atwood were writing this today, she might have added that we take numerous pictures of ourselves and post them on social media for the same reason.

In any case, the main reason I never got into selfies is because rather than create the impression of living life, I want to actually live it.

When I am truly living in the moment, taking out the camera to record it is often the last thing on my mind. While pictures can be a nice way to record an event and use it as a tool to remember it later, it isn’t necessary to do so.

The best memories I have from childhood are ones for which no pictures exist, except in my mind.

Perhaps those that are reading this, even those who may have take selfies at the drop of a hat, will put down the camera phone at least once in awhile and try to just experience life sometime without feeling the need to document it or share it with the world.

While there is nothing wrong with sharing, sometimes the camera can actually act as a shield rather than a window to the world.

Likewise, sometimes the best way to be remembered or assert our existence is through our contributions to society, in which case no photos are required.

Relephant read:

But first, let me tell you why selfies are addicting.

Author: Kimberly Lo

Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock

Photos: flickr, flickr

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