The day of the selfie is upon us. Floods of self-obsessed, hashtagging teens swamping the internet with their faces. The best minds of the generation destroyed by madness, duck-faced and no-filtered, dragging themselves from pose to pouting pose. The blight is everywhere, and not even funerals are safe.
Selfies have been looked at with a fair bit of (maybe less apocalyptic) suspicion over the last few months. Time Magazine, Kate Nash, and, uh, Sarah Palin have recently spoken out negatively about them. But then that’s been the trend. It’s appeared to me that many Christians haven’t had a place for them either, flagging them up as an act too full of exclusive self-interest to participate in. Except, obviously, for the ‘my-self-esteem’s-in-Christ-so-all-my-selfies-are-ironic’ crew.
Outrage aside, what is it about this day and age that’s prompted selfies to be a thing, now?
Perhaps it’s that we’re living in a visually-overloaded culture. Cheekbones. Abs. The face angled down, eyes looking up: it’s the look of a model in close-up profile. That wash of perfect faces we see every day, on buses, on webpages, TV, anywhere you can stick an advert, could well have changed how we see our own faces.
And the current is strong, yanking our self-regard out of our hands. We’re not just presented with other peoples’ ‘better’ faces, this flow of pretty faces tells us how we should see our own. For most of us, I’d say this stuff gets in on a level under our calculated choices.
“I want to see more young women holding a fish than holding their camera in front of a bathroom mirror doing a selfie,” said Sarah Palin. From a bit of research into this headline (it did throw me at first), Palin seems to be telling teens to go outside, forget about their faces, and enjoy some healthy outdoor pursuitin’. Basically, drop the selfies.
Here’s the thing though – we’re in a culture that doesn’t really let us forget about our faces. And I wonder if selfies have been, in some way, a knee-jerk response. Take self-regard out of our hands and we’ll grab for it again, try to regain control. To an extent, every selfie must be stamped in the mould of self-promotion culture. But, somewhere in the urge to click and upload, I’m sympathetic. I think there’s a recognisable desire to value ourselves in there, a desire to take back our own image, to understand ourselves in the middle of what’s become such an overwhelmingly visual culture.
Can we forgive the odd selfie, then? Is there even a place for them? Maybe at least we can start to see where they’re coming from, and not write them off as just more baffling societal selfishness. I’d love to know what you think.
(Picture via Telegraph)