Have you been here? A picture is taken and then someone says, ‘wait! Let me see that…hmmm, I don’t look good, can we take it again?’. Working with teenagers, it was an everyday occurrence. And I hated it, but never said anything. I’d delete the imperfect one, take another, while silently mumbling in my head about the egos of kids today.
I wish I would have said something.
Generation Selfie- Let’s talk about it.
The other day, I was cruising with a young adult in the car, and I noticed she was taking pictures of herself. At first I ignored it. That is how much I hate the selfie, I can’t even handle a discussion on it. But then I had to ask, ‘um, are you seriously taking selfies in the car right now?’ Turns out, she was just snap chatting (I still don’t get the appeal). BUT, it led to conversation.
|Acceptable Selfie- more than one person|
You see, I don’t understand the selfie. And let me explain what I mean by selfie. I’m not talking about group pictures. I’m not talking about silly pictures. I’m not talking about pictures to show off a new piercing etc… I’m talking about the epidemic of young people (and some older people) taking multiple pictures of themselves and posting them on social media. It has always sat really uneasy with me, but I wasn’t quite sure why.
So, I asked this young person, ‘Don’t you think it’s weird, to like, take multiple pictures of yourself and post them on social media?’
“Not weird at all” she said, “It’s basically what Instagram is for”.
“But why!??!” I asked.
And then she said it, “Well, if I look good, I want people to know I look good, so I post a picture of it. If I look skinny, I post a pictures of it. Selfies are awesome”.
I was almost offended by her honesty, but then she challenged me. “Hey, when you used to go out to bars, didn't you get yourself ‘did’? You wanted to look good and you wanted people to know you looked good”
And she was right. I went on to ask her if she thought it was egotistical, if she thought it was shallow. She reflected that maybe it was a bit, but she didn't’t think there was anything wrong with it. So I let that sit and I let it sink in. And I figured out why her statements sat uncomfortably with me.
Taking a selfie and posting it on social networking is NOT like going out to a bar. It’s not like dressing up and looking good. It’s not like going out and meeting people, talking to them, smiling/laughing with them and letting them see your soul. Taking a selfie isn't showing people who you are, it is showing people who you are is what you look like. And here's the thing... what you look like is a PART of who you are, but perhaps the LEAST important. Generation selfie makes it MOST important.
Generation Selfie, for the most part, leaves little room for imperfections. We post pictures showing us at our best angles, with the best lighting, the pictures that make us look ‘thin’ the pictures that hide the imperfections…the flaws. I once had a picture as my profile that wasn't the most flattering. BUT, I loved it- because it showed true joy. I had a laugh on my face, that was being shared by my oldest son. I loved that picture. Do you know, when I took it down, SO MANY PEOPLE commented/said, ‘I am so glad you took that picture down of yourself, I HATED it!’ (if you said that, it’s okay, I get it!)? I can’t tell you how many times I have taken pictures with women and they have said, turn your face, pull your chin up, it makes you look better. But the thing is, maybe we don’t always need to ‘look better’. Maybe we can look good, just as we are. Maybe our flaws, our imperfections, the ‘bad pictures’ taken of us show people a realness this world is desperately seeking. Maybe, we can be okay with who we are on the outside, (assuming we've taken the time to be healthy). Maybe, God loves us and made us, with some ‘flaws’ with some ‘imperfections’ and maybe those are the very things that make us vulnerable enough to be real with people.
At the end of the conversation I said, ‘You know, I don’t like this and I don’t think it’s good. I don’t think it’s good. We are so concerned with how our exterior looks to the point where we feel we have to be perfect in every picture’. This young adult said, ‘you might not like it, but it is not changing, it is the way things are’. And I felt sad.
And then I said, ‘well, there’s always the second coming…’