Selfishes on the Stage of Social Media

One of my high school students calls selfies “selfishes.”  How on the money is that.  When selfies first came out I thought it was such a great idea.  And I take selfies occasionally.  A selfie with a great background, like Niagara Falls, can be a wonderful “rememory”, as my son used to say.  Of course, asking someone to take your picture in front of Niagara Falls would also make a good “rememory”. And probably be a better photo.

Are we now getting our self-esteem from constantly taking pictures of ourselves and then posting them all over social media so everyone sees and admires us?  I am a baby-boomer, raised in a world where we tried to affect change.  I wonder when we became culturally narcissistic.

 “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances.”  Quoted from “As You Like It” by William Shakespeare. 

Is that what selfies are?  Are we merely players on the 2015 stage of social media?  Do we gauge our popularity via how many ❤ we get on Instagram? How many likes on Facebook or how often we are favorited on Twitter?  Is that what I do?  Instead of having friends or family take a few pictures of us at an occasion or just hanging out, why do we, in 2015, narcisstically pose for self-inflicted photos?

What I glean from this quote by Shakespeare is that we go through stages of life with each stage’s turmoil and emotions and these are played out by all men and women.  I am a far cry from a Shakespearean expert, but have thought of this quote over the years.  Selfies seem to me to be a vehicle to mark moments of stagnant action, not moments depicting how individuals evolve or devolve. Selfies usually don’t capture moments of turmoil and the emotions of a given stage of life.

Selfies scream out “Look at me!  Admire me!  Admire me and my friends! Admire me in this restaurant!  Like me!  Admire me!”

They capture how we look posing in a moment of time.  Teenagers post selfies showing off their make-up or posing in a bathroom with their reflection caught in the mirror day after day.  Other teenagers post selfies showing off their muscles or cars or partying selves.  Adults take selfies proving that they know what selfies are.  They take selfies on vacations and selfies to show how good they still look.  No one takes selfies because they look particularly tired or unattractive that day.  Adults take selfies with their children and grandchildren, showing off how cute they are.

Narcissism by proxy.

 

About Barb Knowles

The things that are important to me are family, friends, teaching, writing, languages and using my sense of humor to navigate this crazy world. Please join me on this blogging adventure...
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68 Responses to Selfishes on the Stage of Social Media

  1. Bumba says:

    As to all your rhetorical questions, the answer is yes. It’s a funny world we’re in.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Self, selfish, selfie. All about One. So agree with your last sentence.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think it’s the lack of live human contact that’s doing it. We used to, you know, talk to one another. Now, our thumbs do all the talking. And thumbs are not known for their eloquence or emotional reach.

    Because, really, how deeply can you spelunk your best friend’s feelings on 140 characters of rope? Hanging out at the mall together over Cokes may not have been a healing but it was better than making duck lips for three seconds and hitting Send.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. abyssbrain says:

    I haven’t bothered with this trend even if this is the “cool” thing to do in my age group. Honestly, I haven’t given much thought about selfies. I just thought of it something like, “what’s the point of taking a lot of selfies and uploading them on social media anyway?”.

    I remembered reading a year ago that a Philippine Catholic Archbishop remarked that doing too much selfies is selfishness. Not surprisingly, he was ridiculed on the social media for being absurd and for being bad at puns… When I first read about it, I just sort of ignored it and not give it much thought but as time passes, particularly during this year, I’m starting to see the point of what he said.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Barb Knowles says:

      I agree. But I also have taken my share of selfies. But usually with my teenage students or family. And part of the reason I don’t often is because I don’t want to look at myself in the mirror of my phone, not like how I’m aging and then capture that in a pic! Which brought me to thinking about this topic.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Carrie Rubin says:

    I never thought much about selfies until I visited London and Paris in March. It was convenient to be able to take my photo in front of the Eiffel Tower or capture my family and me in front of Notre Dame without having to bother someone to take our photo. So for that reason, I like them. But posting constant selfies of oneself online is otherwise a bit strange.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Barb Knowles says:

      The every-night-partying-in-the-bathroom selfies really get to me. What happened to casual pics where we capture people naturally and they look like they really look and are unposed activities? I agree about wanting some vacation shots. But how many did you take with all sort of faces and posted them on social media every day? Probably none. I don’t mean to sound like I’m on a high horse. It’s like a vortex that sucks you in. Me included… thank you for sharing your thoughts.

      Like

    • Bea dM says:

      I think it’s so much nicer to ask total strangers to take our picture! it’s an opportunity to exchange a smile, a please and a thank you !

      Liked by 1 person

      • Carrie Rubin says:

        Unless you’re an introvert like me. Then it’s anxiety provoking. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      • Barb Knowles says:

        I’m wary of strangers, because I’ve watched enough true crime lol. Unless the situation really feels safe. Double-edged sword, because, as you say, it’s nice to meet people.

        Like

      • Barb Knowles says:

        And, like Carrie said, a photo is not worth anxiety! There is a time and place for everything. But more than 365 photos year of your face with make-up is way over the line. But that’s just my opinion .I definitely don’t want to offend anyone!

        Like

  6. One word to narcissm by proxy : wefies! :p

    The need for instant gratification is rampant. The “me” society is thriving, patience diminishing. No one would wait to get patted on the back these days, they ask for it. Social media fuels that. Oh, world we live in! 😊

    Liked by 2 people

    • Barb Knowles says:

      Agree, agree, agree. Yet I see myself in all of this which makes me hypocritical. I guess I see that all these behaviors are diminishing social discourse as we have known it, and replacing it with a new type of discours. Some of it I love (Twitter) and some I’ve grown tired of (Facebook). I wonder how we’ll be communicating in 15 years.

      Like

    • Barb Knowles says:

      Oh and love welfies!

      Like

      • Hahaha! Hypocritical sounds harsh. I guess in keeping up with technology, we can’t help but get into it. It’s the extent to which it is being done is the key question. Some do it every hour posting selfies – which is too much; even every day is a bit much for me….and I have resorted to mute/block their feeds. I generally avoid selfies…i find it weird looking at myself and then posting my face up that would give people nightmare! :p

        I prefer Twitter to FB, too. And definitely nothing wrong with wefies every once in a while. Guilty as charged! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      • Barb Knowles says:

        I love twitter because I get almost all my news on Twitter. I follow all the major news broadcasts (well, not Fox) here and many abroad. My students use twitter for very different purposes. But this blog is posted automatically on Twitter and Facebook. I was obsessed with Facebook games for quite a while but am done with that. Yes, I vote for welfies. As long as it isn’t you and me in a bathroom, putting on makeup and standing with our hand on a hip in the reflection of the mirror haha.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh yes! It would be interesting to know how we communicate in 15 years. My guess is, probably there would be a device/app for mind-reading and that would be interesting…but scary!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Barb Knowles says:

        I’m figuring droids… Yes, mind-reading, hmmm, which would mean we could never get anyone angry. Ever.

        Like

      • Wouldn’t that be nice! It’s all lurrrrve..but that would be too boring! LOL.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. YES! LOVE this! This is why I took myself off of Facebook. Seriously… what did we do with all our time before we had a platform to brag, show off, and garner attention for how “awesome” our lives are? And why can’t we enjoy our lives without people reinforcing our enjoyment by “liking” everything we do? It’s so absurd…

    Liked by 2 people

    • Barb Knowles says:

      I don’t want to give the impression that don’t use social media. This blog is posted on Twitter and Facebook. And I want to add pinterest even though I’m not a fan. And I’ve taken selfies. But it seems sure h a narcissistic past time. Like over the top. I always look forward to your thoughts! Thanks 😆

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ll admit, I DO use Twitter and Facebook for my blog… but for personal use? I just couldn’t do it anymore. Too much personal information overload. I totally understand it’s usefulness, but personally, I just needed some time away. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Barb Knowles says:

        I’m just reading my reply to you, and there are so many errors that I can’t figure out what I was trying to say! Oops

        Like

  8. Lots to think about here. I thnk the selfie is a form of affirmation without merit. A reflection of the self admired by the self and others and is a product of a generation that is venerated for the sake of veneration and not for what they have accomplished.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Barb Knowles says:

      I think they are fun and desperate at the same time. And it is definitely a generational thing. Believe me, I’ve taken a lot of selfies, but usually with other people. Which makes them doublies, I guess. I see kids on Instagram posting selfies every single day or more than once a day with taglines that say “Am I still beautiful?” And 90 ❤ .That's sad. This post started out to be something funny because I loved it when that kid called them selfishes. But as I wrote, I realized that I was commenting on social media per se. I use social media a lot. But I love your line of "is a product of a generation that is venerated or the sake of veneration and not for what they have accomplished." Generalizing, of course, but there is a lot of truth there.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. amommasview says:

    As a mom with kids and a husband I usually take pictures of I like to take the occasional selfie. But most of the time it’s a group selfie of us. And sometimes I just like to have the occasional picture of me too 😉 But it’s for the families photo book and not for Facebook. I don’t like the selfie hype. It does scream “look at me!” indeed. And I also think it’s a dangerous trend. As so many things on social media a selfie only portraits one side of the coin.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Barb Knowles says:

      Good point. I’m not saying that I don’t take them as well. My opinion, and I’m sure a ton of people will disagree, is that we can’t get our self-esteem based on reactions by strangers as well as by friends, on the internet. I use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and I’m sure others if I thought about it longer. But there is something about selfies that show a cultural shift to me.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I was just talking to a friend about this. I have a travel centric insta and she has an urban garden centric insta yet we get the most likes on our selfies. We couldn’t understand why even though we feel our instagrams are interesting, it all gets overlooked for our looks. What a superficial society we live in!

    Like

  11. pilotjoe says:

    The best of all thing i have read right now awesome

    Pilot Joe roger out

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I agree wholeheartedly. In fact, I wrote a blog post titled “Me’s” about this very topic. I, too, feel we are breeding a very narcissistic culture and society. Sad.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Paul says:

    Selfies are weird. It’s like “here is a picture of my face – the same face I had yesterday and last week, do you still like it?” I would hope there are some people who post selfies online who do it for fun and not to see how popular they are. Otherwise, we’re all a bunch of insecure people who need consistent reassurance.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Joseph Nebus says:

    I can’t really get bothered by selfies. What’s wrong with a picture that captures someone sharing a moment when they were having fun with people they assume are going to be interested in seeing that?

    Granted some can be tasteless: your smiling and waving selfie in front of, say, a war memorial should be thought better of. But … you’re somewhere having fun, and you put your camera out at arm’s length to take a picture of that, and this is a problem for someone? But it would be all right if you had a friend or a helpful stranger take the exact same picture?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Barb Knowles says:

      I see your point. But I know teenage girls who post selfies at least once a day and get upset if they don’t get at least 80 💟 on Instagram. Not of them doing anything, just pics of their faces. If they had friends who were willing to take their picture everyday and post it, I guess it would be the same. Obviously, each person is different. And as I said in the article, I take selfies occasionally too. And I use social media a lot. But in this social media world we live in, putting yourself out there, literally, for all the world to see and admire day after day to me is narcissistic and scary.
      Hashing out ideas about which we have different thoughts is great. Thanks for reading my article and sharing your viewpoint.

      Like

  15. michaelbartonfreelance says:

    Its a great read, and sadly too many young people are placing their self esteem in the amount of likes they get. Social skills are eroding as well.

    Liked by 1 person

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  17. I am glad to have been led here through A Momma’s View and her weekly picks! I love everything about this post. I am guilty of taking the occasional selfie (or dually) when on vacation with my husband. I see people on my Facebook who post several a day, and it is nothing short of narcissism and a sad need for validation through attention. As for the bathroom mirror selfie, I just have to shake my head. Why? Why? Why?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Barb Knowles says:

      Yes the bathroom ones are crazy. And as I said in the post, I too take selfies. But not a crazy number, in crazy places. I think bathroom mirrors should come with a sign that says “Your future employers will see the selfies you are about to take.” Thank you for visiting my blog!

      Like

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  19. Val says:

    I don’t know if there was the same fad there in the USA but a few decades ago young (and youngish) people in the UK used to take ‘selfies’ in photo booths – the type of booth used for instant passport photos – where they’d pose in silly positions and with crazy expressions on their faces – sometimes not alone if they could cram a friend or two into the booth with them. I think of todays selfies as an extension of that.

    I don’t mind seeing people’s pics of themselves occasionally, but this all-the-time in-yer-face habit tends to annoy me and I agree with your thoughts on it. As for myself, I have a peculiar condition in which I can’t easily recognise people from their faces – myself and my own included – so I often take photos of myself to see what the heck I look like but am then so dismayed by what I see that I rarely show anyone!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Barb Knowles says:

      Yes, here the photo booths are still in use. For the high school proms (formal dances for the graduating class) they now have photo booths instead of formal pics. And many weddings have them too, for the guests to use. Often with a theme. Like half-masks and top hats. That kind of thing.
      And I’m with you. The days of automatically cute selfies are over. Now I have to take 5 to have one that is semi-successful.

      Liked by 1 person

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