Selfie Awareness

selfie mockI was in Vyšehrad a few weeks ago, it was the first blue sky of the spring and so a friend and I grabbed a beer, sat on a bench, and chatted. We sat down near a group of young women who were engaged in the act of selfie taking. We spent a little more than an hour there and the girls spent that entire time taking selfies.

There were traditional selfies, group selfies, selfies with the sky, selfies with the ground, selfies with the statues of Přemysl and Libuše.

OK, people, what’s with all the selfies? Are we just that obsessed with our own faces? I have taken perhaps four selfies in my life and each one left me feeling as though I was leaning against a lamp-post hitching up my garter belt. I suppose I just don’t think that people need to see my face that up close, especially since my recent discovery of a gray nose hair.

Perhaps it would be different if I was one of the beautiful people.

Nevertheless, the selfie is enormous. It was Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year in 2013. There are now accessories, like a selfie stick and a selfie timer and you can buy them in the selfie shop in the main train station.

Not only are there simple selfies, there are now a variety of selfies. There are belfies (butt selfies – thank you Kim Kardashian), welfies (workout selfies), helfies (hair selfies), and even bookshelfies (I guess a selfie of you in front of your bookshelf thus proving your intelligence). I guess that would mean our Vyšehrad girls were taking skelfies (sky selfies) and grelfies (ground selfies).

The opportunities are limitless.

But really, what’s the story? Are selfies a reflection of society’s current narcissistic personality or are they simply a modern manifestation of an age-old self-obsession? Are we somehow more self-obsessed than people who came before us? Who knows? After all, self-portraits have been all the rage for years and years. Picasso, Dali, Kahlo, and even Parmigianino did the first selfie of sorts back in 1524.

So is the selfie any different or any worse?

I think so. A selfie doesn’t seem to be an artistic choice as much as it’s another way of centering something around ourselves. We can’t sit at a diner and eat an omelet, we have to take a picture. We can’t sit in the park with our friends, we have to document it and post it to the Facebook. It’s no longer here’s beautiful Vyšehrad, but rather here’s my face…oh yeah, and that’s Vyšehrad in the background.

This is nothing new. About ten years ago, when the selfie had not yet become the global phenomenon that it now is, I was walking through the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. A man was walking through with a video camera attached to his face filming everything. Everything. The people, the guards, the walls, the souvenir table, other video cameras. He was so obsessed with capturing the moment that he was completely missing the moment.

That’s what selfies seem to be. We are more interested in capturing our moments and documenting our experiences than in actually experiencing things. And instead of capturing them, we could be missing out on those moments.

So what to do? Who the hell knows. Maybe we could simply enjoy experiences without being compelled to document them. We might even find that sitting in the park or having a beer with a friend is a more pleasant experience and memory if we don’t take photographic evidence.

At the very least, please leave the selfie stick at home.

  1. #1 by almarita on April 13, 2015 - 4:28 pm

    A very thought provoking blog today. Very interesting!!!!

  2. #2 by Marketa on April 13, 2015 - 7:36 pm

    agree and agree. thank you for this entry! it is so true! I can tell I have two facebook profiles (one for my teenage students) and that one is overflowed with their selfies… I can actually see them taking that selfies at school and then seeing them posted on facebook later… very sad, seeing kids with their smartphones and tablets, not chatting nor reading anything… really – I do agree with you. We should capture the moment in the moment – with no need to share it on facebook…

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