No, The ‘Selfie’ Is Not Destroying Society

by robinhardwick


Obama takes selfies. Ellen’s star-studded selfie at the Oscars broke twitter. Selfie was just included in the official Webster’s dictionary (citation needed). People now take selfies at funerals, after sex, in front of suicide jumpers. “Selfie” is used ironically by old people and commercial producers. Check your local Intro to Sketch Writing Class- I am sure there are several sketches where someone unlikely yells “selfie” to get a laugh.

If you follow all the trend pieces or watch a mid-day talk show hosted by b-list celebs, they have you believing that selfies are the result of an increasing narcissistic, self-destructive, and needy-for-validation society. Selfies will destroy the rainforests. Selfies cause global warming. The philosophy of selfies gets prime real estate in the New York Fucking Times.

I haven’t lived any life earlier than my thirty-five years have allowed me, but I am pretty sure people have been narcissistic and needy throughout much of the human experience, way before selfies. This is a case of “the internet is destroying us!” hysteria, which comes about when one or two examples give us confirmation bias. People taking pictures of themselves to show other people, is well, human. We are generally always focused on ourselves anyway. Just watch when scientists put a mirror in front of a chimpanzee. They love it!

So, it’s not the selfie itself (dibs on that phrase for my improv team name)that is terrible, there’s just terrible people that will be terrible no matter the technology. But think about what the selfie has done: it’s allowed us to see people from around the world in the world they are in. We are a more mobile society, we move around more and have friends in more remote places. We get to see what they are doing/what they look like at the moment. I wish my niece and nephew on the other side of the country took ten selfies a day so I could literally see the people I love’s faces more often.

Sure, the selfies of someone’s angry face because they have to wait in line at Starbucks is annoying, but it’s no different than writing in an op/ed to the local newspaper saying “I do declare, I am unsatisfied with the service I received at the local coffee merchant.” It’s just shorthand. It’s just more immediate.

Also, isn’t it amazing that the president is taking selfies? The technology allows us to literally look at the president and his activities on a daily basis, seeing his varied facial expressions, seeing more about his daily activities. It’s make him more human. We are more accessible to the man who is supposedly the leader of the free world.

Problem is, of course, the selfies that get the most attention are that of Kim Kardashian’s butt, but remember, that is work for her. Celebrity is her occupation. We can ignore those and pay attention to the selfie my friend takes after she finishes a marathon, the selfie taken soon after the birth of a child (notice I said not during) and all the amazing things the internet has allowed us to do.

Selfies are the scapegoat, the easy thing to point our fingers at when we don’t like how we’ve raised our youth and need someone to blame. You know why teenagers and kids take selfies and use snapchat? Because we literally keep them in the fortresses of our homes. Gone is the era when kids left their house promising to be back for dinner, and just got together with their friends or neighborhood kids. They actually do want to socialize, there are just less chances to do so. So guess what? Humans adapt to their surroundings. And the selfie is a way of adapting to communicating.

Let’s face it, social media is better at reporting the news than any newspaper or laughable cable news station, so I’d actually prefer the report of someone at the scene of the incident than endless babble and holograms. It tells the story of the actual people affected.

Take a selfie, don’t take a selfie. But my god, let’s stop talking about the MEANING of selfies. It’s like wearing your favorite band’s tee shirt to one of their shows.