By Jason Price, Seattle, Washington
Look World – See How Cool I am!
If you are online and have access to the web, chances are you’ve done it. You’ve taken a picture of yourself and posted it to a social media site such as Instagram or Facebook. Or, you’ve simply sent it via text to a few friends. These photos typically range from the innocuous – at the park, with friends, at the beach, ballgame, etc.; to the ridiculous – in the bedroom, making a duck face in the bathroom mirror, or being photo bombed by some drunk in the background. Regardless of the subject matter the evidence is clear – we have become a Selfie-centered society.
The ‘Selfies’ Heard Round the World
If you live in the free world and watched the Oscars, chances are you have also seen Ellen’s infamous ‘selfie’ with a bunch of her movie star friends. It was yet another shameless (and highly successful) example of self-promotion for Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3. Many people have undoubtedly seen the Obama’s selfie with British Prime Minister David Cameron and Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt during Nelson Mandela’s funeral while a sober and socially conscious Michelle Obama looks on in disgust. What is with these people? Why on earth would you take a photo of yourself at a funeral? These are major leaders in the free world!? Jesus.
A Pandemic of Narcissism
Before the internet age we didn’t have the means to self-promote the way we do today. People picked up the phone to chat with friends, made dates to get together, and went to each other’s houses if they wanted to talk. There was much more in-person social contact B.I. (Before Internet). The advent of the web and the subsequent boom of social media started early on with AOL, then evolving into Myspace before progressing into Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Collectively, we’ve become obsessed with providing updates on our every move and thought. We have new tools and virtual toys to play with, which let us talk about ourselves in ways that didn’t exist 15 years ago. Our self-esteem is measured by how many Likes and Comments we get on our inane posts. We are disappointed when these numbers are low or when friends rank higher in the number of ‘friends’ they have. These statistics can lead to depression and lack of self-worth – the very counter effect that we desire.
What most people don’t get is this – nobody cares. Nobody cares that you are at the mall with friends. Nobody cares that you didn’t like when Herschel was killed on Walking Dead. Nobody cares that you just ate a great cheeseburger. Nobody but you that is. What is incredible about this pandemic is that people post messages on social media primarily to promote themselves. It’s for them, for their ego and to hopefully improve their social status. Yes, there are exceptions to this for example the use of Twitter to coordinate anti-government protests in countries like Egypt. But the majority of information sharing is done in the spirit of bragging and telling the world about your thoughts, actions and feelings – shamelessly hoping they will click that +1 or thumbs up sign to validate your life.
A Call to Action
These tools all have some value. And being connected and able to share with friends in an electronic medium isn’t a bad thing. However, when you are constantly posting photos of yourself in awkward positions or telling us that you are headed to the bathroom this becomes a problem.
Starting today – make a commitment to only share positive information that you want people to see. Sure, it’s ok to make your friends laugh with a stupid cat video every once in a while. But it’s not cool to post venomous messages about other people or personal attacks. It’s also not OK to post anything you wouldn’t want your grandparents to see or read. Stay positive, be frugal with what you put out there, and for God sakes pick up the phone and find a friend you can go talk to in person. Face to face interaction is rapidly becoming a thing of the past and it needn’t be.