Are all those Selfies Shrinking Your Soul?
Certain tribes around the world believe that every photograph taken of a person steals part of their soul, a part they’ll never get back. It sounds like the premise of a low-budget horror movie starring a washed up Tara Reid anxiously taking selfies to improve her self-esteem while unknowingly killing herself in the process. The question is – are they right? This narcissistic trend of constantly taking photos of ourselves to show other people that A: We have at least 1 hand (to hold the phone) and B: A functional face – is brought about by our new found need to appear more awesome. But is it having the opposite effect?
Gone are the days when people had a bit of mystery about them. We’ve gone from a reserved to an extremely open society in a short space of time. “But Jon, you’re the author of a travel blog, your words are effectively selfies from the depths of you mind, stop being a hypocrite!” I know, and it’s something I struggled with when deciding to do this. It’s partly true that writing about my experiences and taking photos of myself in the midst of those experiences are kinda similar, but I’m doing what people have done for thousands of years, while the selfie is a new phenomenon that perfectly encapsulates a generational shift that we should be trying to halt.
Or am I just jealous and bitter?
The selfie isn’t really my angle. I never look good in them (whenever my girlfriend forces one on me) and it’s become an experience I really dislike. I’ve never been all that into having my photo taken at the best of times, but if it’s going to happen I’d rather give my camera to someone else and let them loose. I read a discussion on the topic of bloggers featuring too few (or too many) photos of themselves on their blog and it got me thinking. I hardly feature any photos of myself, the main reason being that the photo of that amazing view or building isn’t enhanced at all by my presence. You never see the authors of National Geographic articles (or travel articles in newspapers/proper websites) posing for pictures next to famous landmarks; it’s never been a part of travel writing in the past and I don’t see why it needs to be now.
Give the people what they want
People consume social media in the same way as any other form of entertainment. The masses want easily digestible images that require no thought and what better than a selfie in front of some great scenery to achieve that. A friend of mine commented recently that a photo she took of some amazing old rock-art in Sri Lanka got way less likes than a selfie of her before a night out. Am I missing out on a whole lot of readers because I don’t plaster my Facebook page with selfies?
The tribes might be right
The notion of photos stealing your soul might not be too far from the mark. Does someone who takes thousands of photos of themselves lose something in the process? Does the growth of the narcissistic aspects of our personalities consume other more noble ones? These are questions we might never get the answers to, but next time you are staring into your smart phone screen with your finger over the trigger, think whether the world really needs another photo of your face, you might be surprised by the answer.
Do you take a lot of selfies? Maybe you can explain the appeal to me; I’m always willing to learn!