Me and my camera in my home town, my capital city, my london
No clues as to this week’s theme. Is there anything that hasn’t already been said about the selfie? Possibly not but I might have a go anyway.
There was a time, back in the day, if you can cast your mind back, before the days of the internet, before we were able to share snapshots of our lives with everyone we knew, before a time when we had to capture everything we did, before a time when we hoped our pictorial presentations would hopefully make us look favourable to others, before a time when we would relentlessly feed and fuel the process in order that we might feel popular, noticed, liked, loved and…a time before our natural human needs and desires would have the perfect avenue to generate what we ultimately always wanted, a constant drip feed of dopamine injected into us every time we wanted one.
Before that time, if you took photographs, the only people that would ever see them was possibly the person who developed them, someone you happened to be with when you picked them up, anyone who you actually lived with and possibly people who were also in the photos who you might meet or invite round to show them at some point…and that was it! Mebbe 4 -6 people. Tops. This is almost inconceivable today when you think about how many people see pictures you post up via Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp or wherever. Photography was a relatively private affair before the internet but it could not be more different today. The difference is astounding. It is now very much a public affair and most of us have all succumbed to this very visible presentation of our existence.
The technology created the platform but it is pretty apparent the human need and desire was already there. Public approval from your community is something inherent in our species and has been a cornerstone of societies since the beginning. And taking and sharing selfies are just the ultimate logical conclusion of what is essentially a primary social necessity. The problem is that you can see that it is clearly ruling some people’s lives who have become fixated with this rather artificial indicator of their own standing and popularity within their created networks. It has possibly become more important to some than anything else in their relentlessly presented lives.
There was also a time, in the not too distant past, that the act of selfie-ing would have been considered naff and vain and deeply egotistical. The sheer fact that it isn’t regarded that way shows how narcissism has been accepted as not only an accepted human trait but it has also got to that stage when it is actually revered. The most narcissistic person on the planet just got put in the top position in his country, even the world, which just shows how egomania is no longer considered a fault but an attribute.
And you don’t have to look at the President of the USA to have that confirmed. Look at the followers of the biggest stars on Instagram and their feed will be drowning in an endless sea of selfies and very little else. What is weird is that they are essentially putting up what looks like the same picture, with the same expression, same pose, same everything (bar a few clothing decisions or lack of them) over and over again. It gets a little twisted after a while. They created these fantastic digi cameras in people’s phones and they were used them to look inwards not outwards. I do not follow heavy selfsters on IG as am much more interested in what people can see than what they look like. Show me your world, not a million versions of your best pout.
I actually don’t have a problem with people taking selfies, what I have issue with is the excessive time being allotted to this activity. A selfie is fine. The Multi-Selfie is the problem. Where you see people take endless versions trying to get the perfect photo. (here is a great example: https://youtu.be/zohVXBopS5o) I watched a couple at Piccadilly circus take selfies for at least 20 straight minutes…different angles, different looks, check back, adjust a scarf here, a bit of hair there, click, click, check back, pout, pout, grin, grin etc etc. It just went on and on and on. I was completely transfixed watching them and they really epitomised how far we had gone down this road of creating favourable content to dish up to our digi friends. One pic is never ever enough and if you are constantly having extensive selfie photo shoots and spend more time trying to show you are having a great time rather than actually having a great time maybe, just maybe, your priorities are a little out of whack,
My other issue is that these moments that are recorded are not even close to being a representation of what is actually going on in people’s lives. How often have you seen a group of people sat around a table in a bar, maybe not having what looks like the best time ever, and someone holds up their phone and all of a sudden they all gather together, putting their arms around each other, getting their happy/attractive/i’m having the best time ever face on and then holding that fake false grin for as long it takes the numpty in charge to bring in the shot. Once it is all done, everyone separates and returns to the positions they were in and the fun they weren’t having. And yet one or more of those photos will be posted up showing what an amazeballs time they were having and its really absolute and utter bollocks. It never happened. Its a fabricated and ultimately false moment that never existed in reality so why would you want to share that? What’s the point?
People tend to get very upset when you don’t want to do a selfie, something I have learnt from experience but I feel it should always be acceptable to opt out. For me, in those moments, as I attempt to make my face do something that doesn’t reveal my discomfort I feel time slow down to a painful crawl, each second feeling like a mini lifetime as someone fannys around trying to get the right angle and as I stand there frozen, in this fixed fake moment it makes me feel our inwardly looking gaze should be directed elsewhere. Our focus is most definitely out. We need to see a world beyond ourselves. Its just not that healthy an outlook. It certainly didn’t end well for the man whose name became a personality disorder. Narcissus stared into a pool and fell in love with his own reflection. Unable to leave the beauty of his reflection, Narcissus lost his will to live. He stared at his reflection until he died. Will a selfie kill you? People have died taking them so I guess yes. Be safe. Don’t selfie.