Some reading this may take a bit of offense. I certainly don’t mean it that way. The point of what you are about to read is for us to strongly consider what we see happening within our cultural context…
Every day…actually, several times a day, we can log on to one of the many social media web sites and see various pictures that people have taken of themselves. They may be in a restaurant or at a scenic attraction. There are some that post several of these a day…or virtually the same one every day. In and of itself, there is nothing wrong with the modern convenience of a front facing camera on a smart phone. There is nothing wrong with being able to capture a moment or a situation for memory or just fun. But there is another problem that is strongly looming on the horizon…
When I was in the Navy, the disposable camera was a fairly new invention. You took the pictures, and instead of taking the film out, you simply turned the entire device over to a developer and had to wait a minimum of one hour to get your photos developed. I took pictures of all the places I traveled, all the friends I made, and interesting sights along the journey. Out of all of the pictures I took, I was in a handful. The reason why? I was the one taking most of the pictures because I wanted to remember these scenes, these situations, these people…no myself. It never occurred to me in that context to make sure that I was the center of the picture’s attention. My attention was truly on those things outside of myself. (Before I go any further, let me state that I am an incredibly vain individual, so my reasoning for not being in the pics is simply because it never occurred to me…because it wasn’t as simple as it has become today.)
In recent years, the majority of pictures taken, it seems to me are what we call, “selfies.” This is when someone holds their phone away from themselves, gets themselves in focus and snaps the shot. By comparison, on social media, I see very few pictures taken wherein the subject of the photo is a beautiful sunset, a majestic tree, or a broad ocean. In a large number of these pictures that are taken, the central subject of the picture is the person holding the phone.
So what? What’s the big deal? Why does this matter? Isn’t this just a trend that will go away in time? I don’t know…perhaps…or perhaps it will have a different effect…one that it may even be having already. When we become the subject of focus in our collection of photo memories…then aren’t we moving into a place where, maybe on a subconscious level, we are centering on ourselves and not on the beauty of the world and people around us? Are we missing moments with our friends…where they need us to be locked in on them…or are we missing the blessing of a glorious sight in the beauty of a wondrous creation? Are we so focused on our own vanity that we are tuning out the beauty of all that is outside the scope of, “me?”
Maybe we aren’t. Maybe we are doing just fine. Except that in an already fallen and broken world…in an already hurting society…where people have become totally objectified and relegated in importance…we can actually see things taking a deeper dive. Our problem is that we, as humans, will tend to continue along any pathway that feels best to us and makes us, as individuals, the center of the universe.
Is our “selfie generation” losing touch with what it means to put others first with no regard for self? Are we losing touch with the beauty of the grand design because we are too focused on our immediate self image or reputation?
Over and over again, the thought processes of Jesus echo through my mind. Over and over again, I hear Him telling us to put our focus on others…I envision His selfless focus on the beauty of creation and compassion for others. Whether one believes in Him or not, it can hardly be argued that this particular teaching or practice feeds the soul and warms the heart more than anything else.
Am I saying to stop taking selfies? No. There is no commandment for such. I hate adding rules to things when all we need to do is simply take inventory and consider why we are doing what we are doing. What I am saying is that we should perhaps refocus our lens…and maybe step out of the place of always making ourselves the center of attention.
*Image taken from: http://margefenelon.com/4428/selfies-arent-just-fun-and-games-anymore/