Browse through social media these days, and one will find endless selfies of celebrities, influencers, friends, frenemies, and even clueless uncles and aunties getting into the act of pouting at the camera and adding cutesy filters to their photos. In today’s self-obsessed times, we are inundated with so many selfies, photo albums, and videos that we have somewhat become desensitised to them. Besides imageries, selfies are essentially self-expressed materials and modern works of art by people from all walks of life from writers, dancers, art practitioners to your brother – think along the lines of poems, songs, articles, rants, and videos expressed by tortured artistes that have slipped into the vernacular of pop culture.
Dig beyond the surface, and anyone can probably decipher that selfies are, by and large, narcissism in disguise, stoked by the flames of vanity and superficiality. To further discussions, selfies can also be framed negatively as selfishness and be frowned upon as a negative indication of character by society. When was the last time one saw yet another selfie posted by a social media fiend, um, friend and proceeded to do an eye-roll? Probably just minutes ago before engaging in this article, but it probably counted as a way of well-deserved stress-relieving distraction.
Are we too quick to criticise in our haste to judge? Are selfies really, for the lack of a better term, selfish? What is the definition of selfishness anyway? Selfishness is considered the disregard of others at our own convenience, and taking a selfie or writing a song is not causing any inconvenience to anybody (except when you hold up a queue). Look at Eminem, who turned his anger into songs and made it art. Also consider Kanye West, the rapper worshipped by legions of fans (and his missus and Queen of selfies Kim Kardashian) despite his blatant acts of narcissism. How did the president of the United States even get away with his self-indulgent tweets, flaunting his power and the size of his hands, and yet still go on to win millions of votes in 2016? Are we losing our minds?
Wait, let me take a selfie.
Sorry, I digress, where was I? Yes, perhaps we have lost our minds and somehow accepted selfies as the norm of everyday lives. Never mind the distraction and disruption to our work and social life, but we should not give up on the empowerment of our voice. How many times have we stopped to take flat lays of pretty meals before actually eating the cold food later? How many times have we interrupted a conversation to take a selfie just because the lighting looks great on us? These scenarios might have raised a few eyebrows, but they seem perfectly fine now. After all, we are called “Generation Me” where we only care about ourselves – it is called selfishness but with doses of realness.
Perhaps it is also time to take ownership of our selfishness and embrace it as an innate trait of human nature. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and if partner and friends are okay with my selfies, why not? If we are blessed with decent looks and truly love ourselves, why not turn the purported selfishness into a puritanical act of self-esteem? For this writer, taking selfies and flaunting them on social media is a creative way of expressing oneself and projecting better versions of ourselves to the world. We are creatures motivated to look good, feel good, take good photos of ourselves, and tell the world how great our lives are.
Last we checked, haters gonna hate, but we say hate the game, not the player. No matter what, there are people out there who will roll their eyes at another selfie, or worse, refuse to “like” the photo because he looks better than the gazer. As the wise Beatles once said, let it be. The truth is, selfies have a longer shelf life than old polaroids and photographs as they traverse the Internet in pixels and filters to form part of our collective memory. It is a proof of life, evidence of a life well lived, a mirror that holds up to ourselves, and a reminder of how fleeting our lives are. In other words, we should be thankful for selfies because years from now, we would be showing our photos to the world of how great we used to look before this travesty called time and age got the better of us. #Blessed.
On an important note: #empowered. “Generation Me” has given rise to many social movements and built much social awareness to a variety of issues – many selfies have helped with that. But like spidey reminds us, with great powers come great responsibilities, we see right through you if the selfie is more about the abs rather than ALS. #MicDrop