One…two…three…smile for a selfie.
Aren’t selfies—photographic self-portraits—a curious phenomenon? Much has been written recently about the psychology of the selfie, and what our fascination with self-portraits says about us humans. My goal in this post isn’t to add my two cents to that conversation, but rather to offer a word of encouragement for those of you who sometimes feel hurt or left out because of today’s selfie/Instagram craze.
If you’ve ever felt left out or rejected when you see your groups of friends posting fun-filled selfies without you, please consider a couple of thoughts.
People aren’t always having as much fun as their selfies suggest. I recently heard about four young girls who were standing in line at a theme park, thoroughly engrossed in their respective smart phones. They were oblivious to one another, lost in their personal online worlds, when one of the girls suddenly said, “Hey, let’s take a selfie!” The other girls agreed, crowding together, and striking happy, laughing poses until the selfie was taken. Then they all checked the selfie to approve of how they looked, and then they separated and returned to their isolated smart phone viewing.
A carefully selected and posted selfie isn’t always an accurate representation of how much fun people are having without you. Sometimes they’re having more fun than the selfie suggests, but often they’re not. Selfies by nature capture a happy scene, but they say nothing about the accompanying drama and issues that could possibly be going on behind the scene.
Also, viewing other people’s selfies makes us forget about all of the times that we did fun things without them. Since posted selfies of friends highlight and immortalize the fact that our friends had fun without us, they tend to make us feel worse than we need to feel. Before the days of Facebook, Instagram, and selfies, we never had frame-by-frame updates about what our friends were doing without us, and we were just fine.
Now, however, when we see them having fun without us we can feel rejected, and that momentary sting makes us forget about all of the times when we did fun things without our friends. We’ve done tons of things without our friends, and we weren’t rejecting them. We were simply living life.
Let’s help our kids and young friends hold these things in perspective, and let’s make sure that our selfies and social media apps are tools that enhance our life without inflicting unnecessary hurt upon others or upon our own souls.