SELFies age

Not that long ago I was at Chris Henderson’s concert. It was a great event by the way, and one of the most sincere entertainers, who goes above and beyond working with the crowd.

Whenever Chris noticed that someone would point a camera or a cellphone at him taking a picture while he was singing, he would smile, wink and in all other ways try to make the photo original, at the same time making the person behind the device feel special.

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Like most performers, he would share stories and experiences throughout the show. Somewhere halfway through the concert, he turned his attention to his experience with cellphones at the concerts. Guess what, it wasn’t the ringers (like some 5-10 years ago) it was the cameras that became a new fever of current fans.

It took one eye-opening moment during one of the shows to notice an interesting tendency. That time Chris, as usual, would eye-pose for a girl in the crowd catching him into the lens of her iPhone, when she started making a pretty face looking at the phone and he realized that she was actually focused on herself. She didn’t even try to get the two of them in the shot. Just her, just a selfie.

That story made me think about the selfie-boom we are witnessing or experiencing nowadays.

At the Offspring concert (another amazingly great show) I decided to actually test Chris’s observation. There weren’t too many people taking pictures of themselves right in front of the stage (the format was way too different for that I guess, and such a harmless recklessness could get a selfie-fan soaked into the middle of a mosh funnel). But there still were tonnes of people taking selfies all around (I wonder what dominated even during that night, pictures of the bands or selfies. I’m almost sure the second).  

Selfies appeared in our lives with the widespread use of smartphones, so not that long ago. But it didn’t take long for the passion for personal pictures to take over most of the world (seriously, even my grandma, 82, does selfies. Just a couple times a year to make all the grandkids happy, but she does). So why did selfies sneak into our lives so easy? Were we always passive Narcissuses?

Most people who can’t live without selfies say that it’s their way of communication, a way to express yourself and share your emotions. But didn’t you notice that on most pictures people actually pretend, exaggerate, make faces accordingly with the surrounding settings, just grimace and of course “ducklip” (I believe by now, it can be used as a new verb)? In most situations we take selfies in some kind of fancy settings, like on top of the cliff, or next to an exotic animal, or with crystal blue ocean or other beautiful landscape in the back, or at the concert. I always felt that separated from my own self, most pictures look much more interesting. But seems that it’s not the case anymore. 

Different researches suggest that taking selfies increase self-confidence. This activity also engages people in social competition, where we try to gather the most likes/followers/comments/shares/whatsoevers, which eventually increase the social (and financial, big time) status of the champs. But that competition is also killing us by silencing our natural instincts, like survival (the day we were at the Yellowstone National Park a man fell off the cliff into the springs while taking a selfie. He survived, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t his best day).  

And even those, who are not that extreme in their selfie-mania, often risk developing an addiction to selfies, which can lead to a psychological breakdown. More and more we rely on other people’s likes. And quite often those people are virtual in their nature according to our lives. We never meet or interact with them outside of our profiles.

Psychologists suggest that when we have enough quality relationships in real life, we don’t seek so much interest and validation online and the relations with our own images remain healthy.

However, it seems that in general, we are living in the age of selfies, the most egocentric world so far. Our own selves officially became the centre of our worlds, but these selves and their confidence depend on others’ opinions. And that's scary.

I do feel that we and our stories are the most interesting things in the world, but like with everything else, I always cheer for a healthy balance (I guess it's a healthy SELF-balance in this case).

© Copyright Estevan Mercury

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