Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Be More Selfie Conscious

You know that the world is in trouble when the most esteemed guardian of the English language, the cerberus of linguistic integrity, the paladin of patois, bestows a prestigious honor upon what is probably the most embarrassing icon of the digital age.  The word "selfie" was declared Oxford Dictionaries' 2013 word of the year.

57 million photos strong (and that's on Instagram alone), the selfie rages its irritating way across social media platforms.  You can't scroll five seconds in any given social media newsfeed without coming across at least one ridiculous duckface, sweaty gym flexing, or inappropriate tween self-portrait.

Of course, the Oxford Dictionaries' pronouncement of the word "selfie" as socially significant is old news, but the "selfie" will not die.  Instead, it rears its repulsively tacky head in the most inappropriate places.  This week the internet world is all in a hubbub over an Alabama teen's smiling selfie snapped while on a tour of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp. You know, just the place to be all bright and cheery and upbeat?

Auschwitz-Birkenau was only the largest of the Nazi concentration camps designed for the murder of Jews, political prisoners, homosexuals, and other threats to the German regime.  Only a mere 1,100,00+ men, women, and children lost their lives there.

What a great setting for an overly perky selfie!

This bubbly blonde selfie-posting teen isn't alone in her tasteless display of Me-ism.  There have been plenty of other smirking or pouting or taunting selfies posted by social media fans from Auschwitz-Birkenau and still others from the 9/11 World Trade Center Memorial.  Even our illustrious President was caught striking a pose with international dignitaries at the memorial service of politician and philanthropist, Nelson Mandela.

Knuckleheads across social media venues continue to post selfies from funerals, and cemeteries, and memorials of catastrophic death, and in front of burning buildings, and violent arrests.

What is wrong with people?

What a Happy Day!  We're Here at the 9/11 Memorial where 1,000s of people died horrible deaths!

These cops are beating this guy, but who cares?  At least we look super cute!

This family's home and all of their worldly possessions just went up in a hot fiery blaze, but not as hot as I am in these aviator sunglasses!

Rockin' it out at Grandpa's funeral! Good times!

Thumbs up to the Germans for massacring millions of Jews!
These are selfies run amok.  They are shocking and disturbing and more than a little creepy to most sane individuals (at least those over the age of 30). They take narcissism to whole new arrogant and self-absorbed levels.  They are extreme.

But even your standard, less shocking, run-of-the-mill selfie is disturbing as the symptom of something deeper and darker in our collective conscious, a rampant societal narcissism.

Selfies, even in their tamest form, scream "Look at me! Look at me!"  They are acts of shameless self-promotion that are really just desperate pleas for affirmation and acknowledgement for lonely attention-seekers.  They are individual cries into the void for compliments and cool points.  What you are really saying when you post that bathroom mirror selfie to Facebook is, "Could someone please indicate that there are other humans out there that think I'm beautiful/cool/stylish/worth something before I collapse into my own loneliness and worthlessness."

It's kind of sad and pathetic really.

Social media has made us more connected than ever.  We can instantaneously know what our friends and relatives and casual acquaintances are up to even if they are located half-way around the globe.  And yet we are more disconnected than ever when it comes to intimacy and personal relationships.  And so we cast out our nets (nets woven of awkwardly irritating selfies) into the vastness of the internet looking for acceptance and recognition and validation of our worth as individuals.

And it only annoys and aggravates the masses, who quickly scroll past the awkward appeals for approval.  Because selfie sharing actually makes people like you less. British researchers recently discovered that "increased sharing of photographs of the self... is related to a decrease in intimacy."  You are shooting yourself in the foot every time you purse those lips into an outrageous duckface, squeeze your boobs together, and snap that shot with your smart phone in an attempt to make friends and get people to like you.
Because most of us don't care.  And we don't have the mental energy to stroke your ego.

And you look ridiculous.

It's irritating and annoying.  We feel embarrassed for you.  Just put the phone down.  Walk away from the mirror.  Stop creating a false image on social media.  Stop caring so much what other people think.

Stop it with the selfies.

It's not just the Auschwitz selfies and the funeral selfies that are obnoxious.  They are all kind of obnoxious... at least as a collective.   So think twice and post once... or maybe not at all.

We could all learn to be a little more selfie-conscious...

That was intentionally corny... like a duckface selfie.

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