Turn Setbacks into Setups

Are you doing things just for the sake of a selfie? (Chances are, probably!)

March 10, 2019

Selfie culture is booming. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably noticed that the internet is teeming with them, no matter where you look.

Today, the selfie is a global phenomenon, our self-portraits in the digital age. We love to see ourselves at our best, in beautiful places, doing amazing things. And if you’re like most, you’re probably guilty of going to those places and doing those things only for the sake of the “perfect” selfie.

But how far should we take this? And are selfies giving us all the rewards we’re seeking?


The evolution of the selfie


Back when Van Gogh painted over forty self-portraits of himself, he probably never imagined that we’d one day be able to do the same thing with the tap of a screen.


So when did selfies become popular? Well, until a certain point, selfies were pretty awkward to do. You had to angle that box camera (or, later, instant camera) just right. And you couldn’t even see a preview. But it wasn’t until front-facing smartphone cameras became popular on phones like the 2010 iPhone 4 that selfies really took off. This new ease of creation revolutionized the way we take photos. And after that, the selfie exploded. In 2013, the term “selfie” was Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year. And by 2014, selfie sticks were widely used for the perfect shot.


From there, they’ve only kept growing to the phenomenon we know and love today, where selfies dominate the digital landscape on nearly every social media platform.


Life through a lens

Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of taking a selfie. For most of us, the benefits are obvious: selfies are tangible proof that we’ve “been there, done that.” They capture a memory of us exactly as we were. (But don’t forget the Instagram filter for the perfect touch.)


Today, when many of us experience something in real life, it’s through the lens of a smartphone. As tourists, we’re more interested in snapping the perfect selfie than in the view itself. (And let’s not even start on the marketing for “Instagram-friendly” tours.)


But when we pause to pick up our phone, we’re removing ourselves from the moment. The camera becomes a literal barrier between us and what we’re there to see. From a psychological perspective, taking selfies is very self-oriented behavior, as opposed to focusing outward. Literally, you’re missing whatever you’re around because you’re thinking of you.


Of course, this the new normal for most of us. Especially social media “influencers,” who seem to be crying out: “If life isn’t lived through a lens, is it really lived at all?”


Live in the moment


The truth? No one cares about your photo.

Most of us glance at our friends’ photos for a second or less as we scroll through our social media feed. And we’re so self-centered that we’re distracted by thoughts of our own image, our own selfies.

The next time you feel the urge to document a view, or an action, just for the sake of posting a selfie on social media, just pause. Look around, and appreciate the view. Be grateful for the people you’re with. And enjoy life in the moment, experiencing it for yourself—and not through the lens of your camera.


Doing things for the sake of a photo. Are you guilty? (probably)


This blog is written in a rant / opinion style on the observation of the “selfie” phenomenon. People experience something in real life but it is still through the lens of their smartphone. Tourists seem more interested in the photo from the viewpoint than the view itself. This blog challenges behavior toward enjoying life in the moment, and appreciating things for what they are.  No one cares about your photo!

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