The Self Conscious Selfie

Just finished reading an article hypothesising on the current social phenomenon of the Selfie – ‘Selfie Addiction’ by Hilary Cadigan.

Apart from the word itself sounding painfully indulgent, the idea that there is more to it than just people taking photos of themselves is very intriguing.

In a nutshell, the article examines an authoritarian society that sets limits of self-expression to a long-standing set of social norms. Conformity is paramount to this social order where collectivism overrides all forms of individualism. Selfies are contra to this long established mantra. It’s viewed as self-promotion and deemed as inappropriate. Consequently, the powers to be have become exceedingly uncomfortable with this practise to the extent it has been publicly denounced.

Is it really this deep and meaningful?

To be honest, I hadn’t given it much thought beyond the obvious nauseous narcissist that can be often seen on Facebook and other similar social media. Do these people really desire excessive attention? Are they afraid of becoming irrelevant if not constantly posting images of themselves in cyberspace to family and friends?

Perhaps it is much more mundane than this. Maybe just a bit of harmless fun?

These are my thoughts for what it’s worth.

When I was at an age to be inclined to indulge in this sort of thing, the means to do so were not easily available. You did occasionally try to point a camera at yourself, but getting it just right for a quality photograph was hit and miss. The camera was generally heavy and at arms length you could not predict what was going to be in the frame with any certainty. There was no digital photography and film was expensive. The idea of “wasting a shot” generally meant you didn’t do it and besides, there was no instant gratification; you had to wait to get the film developed.

Compare those times to now. The dedicated camera has been replaced by the ubiquitous mobile phone. Small and light to use, digital technology means you can take as many photos as you wish, to get that perfect shot. You also see what you are shooting due to the front facing camera and receive instant gratification to boot.

I’m part of this digital age and own an up-to-date mobile phone with all the bells and whistles, but I don’t take selfies.
(Slight qualification – on rare occasions when forced to)

Why?

I have no desire to admire my ageing face and am not the slightest bit in love with my self-image. This doesn’t mean I hate myself, mind you, but I know what I am and don’t need to be reassured each and every day how good I look for my age – polite lies at best. Drawing attention to myself in this way is shallow and meaningless. I would much prefer to be known for my conversational and writing skills – better or for worse. Give me substance over form any day.

The selfie is predominately the domain of the young with plenty of free time to indulge.

I’m sure in some instances it is a declaration of independence, but for the most part I feel its more to do with boredom, herd/group mentality, convenience and of course a little self promotion thrown in.

 

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