Redeemed writer of the King. Extremely intrigued by people. Fascinated by God's creation. Lover of history, books, sweet tea, and...stuff? Called to be a light through the power of words!
"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but a Spirit of Power, Love, and self-control."
2 Timothy 1:7
Written By: water&pen
March 25, 2015
“I need to take a selfie.” The words reach my ears from across the oak table. I try my best to withhold the groan threatening to come out. Ugh, selfies. My friend grabs her hulking Samsung Galaxy, purses her lips, adjusts the angle of the phone, and clicks an advantageous picture of her face. Okay, so this sounds like any normal person taking a selfie, right? You see dozens of them each day. Everywhere you go, people are posing in front of their phones. If a picture is bad, it’s deleted. But, wait, I’m not finished with my story. My friend recently went through a painful breakup. After she took a satisfying selfie, the next words out of her lips made me pause: “I might be depressed and have nothing going for me, but at least I look cute.” At least I look cute. Okay. When selfies are uploaded, people see a confident, good-looking person. Hashtags like: #hawt; #lookingood; #betterthanyou; and, (horror of horrors) even #selfie; cover up our broken insecurities. We can fool everybody by snapping an amazing picture of our face, but we can’t fool ourselves. There is power behind the selfie—not all of it is good. #controversy
I used to be a selfie-taker, you know. Not having a smartphone, I’d heft up the ipad and try to take pictures without it being starkly obvious that I was using an ipad. That was when I wasn’t sure in my identity or of who God was to me. I craved attention. People saying: “You are beautiful!” fueled me. It made me believe I had identity in my outward appearance. As long as others thought I looked good, I really did and everything else would be okay. But really…my selfies were in place of an insecure girl, striving to reach society’s lie about beauty and self-worth. I mean, I’m part of the generation obsessed with self. Yet now I’m older. I know who I am. I know who I am in God. I can look back on why I took selfies. And, soon, what it means to the people around me. #yay #selfie #interviewtime
I’ve decided to conduct my own research by asking different people four questions.
A: How would you describe the selfie?
B: What does the selfie mean to you?
C: Why do you think people take selfies?
D: Can selfies be artistic or are they purely for fun or self-focused?
Here are some of the answers:
Male, fifteen / A: “Me, me, me, me, me, me.”
Female, fifteen / B: “I take better pictures of myself than other people do tbh. People can get too carried away and they start to look narcissistic.”
C: “Why do people take pictures in general…because you see something fascinating? Some days I’ll be really cute and think ‘oh hey I should take a picture’ so I can remember this time I thought I was pretty.”
Male, forty-three / A: “A selfie is taking pictures of oneself.”
B: “I think people are doing it because it’s about themselves, not about other people.”
C: “It probably started when people wanted to show others what they look like—their new clothes—look at me. It’s fun, it’s how we culturally do things.”
Female, forty-two / A: “Self-absorbed…why?”
B: “It means wanting attention?”
C: “To be noticed?”
D: “It can be artistic but you want somebody to notice the artisticness. I’m not saying it’s wrong. Media can be a great connection with others and facilitate conversation. A good check for yourself when looking at other people’s selfies is: ‘What are my thoughts?’ Are you jealous? Do you enjoy looking at their pictures? Do you think they’re self-absorbed?”
Male, eleven / B: “People wanting to post themselves on Twitter to post themselves on Twitter, etc.”
Female, seventeen / B: “You take a selfie when you think you look nice. It has to do with being confident. The majority is posted on social media and you sort through them and delete the ones you don’t like and repeat the process.”
C: “To make memories. Sometimes people do it because they’re vain and want to show people up. It should be lighthearted and fun. Filters are used on selfies to lie to ourselves and others and make a distorted image of ourselves in our brain.”
D: “I believe they can be used for an artistic representation or for fun. Some people pour themselves into selfies and go to a scenic venue to have a pretty background. For some people it’s going to Starbucks and documenting the time spent with friends there. I take selfies for fun.”
Okay. So there’s some anti-selfie answers and some pro-selfie answers. Some think it’s utterly narcissistic. Some enjoy selfies and believe they can be used as a creative platform. I agree with both of these ideas, right? It depends on who you are. But…nobody that I interviewed straight out said that there’s a large portion of selfies that are borne out of the relentless search for identity. Why? Is it supposed to be a secret that we yearn to be accepted and sought after? Nobody wants to admit that we, as a race, desire others to gratify us. Nobody wants to blatantly acknowledge that we’re looking to feel good about ourselves and feel wanted and attractive. We fill our emptiness with an appearance of vain conceit because we think this one more selfie will make us feel whole and make us better than everybody else. When we aren’t accepted, we often make ourselves appear better than everybody who’s rejected us—we want to make them jealous. But we’re really just lost…or… maybe we’ve surrendered to society’s lie of self-obsession. Could it be true? Could there be something deeper going on behind millions of lenses? I think yes.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.”
Philippians 2: 3-4