The selfie is a self-portrait taken on a mobile phone and uploaded to a social media website. The first self-portrait photograph is thought to have been taken by camera pioneer Robert Cornelius in 1839.
The selfie is criticised and associated with vanity and narcissism.
A little narcissism is good.
It motivates us to develop through a love of ourselves and an expectation that others will recognise that love, and respond with love.
The selfie helps us to remember the trip out with friends, an outfit, a mood, or seeing ourselves as others see us. It reminds us of what we were like at the time. We want to check out how we are seen.
To be photographed is a relatively new phenomenon. It provides with an external reality or proof of how we looked. There is nothing left to the imagination. The photo is there in front of us. After time we might have forgotten it. We can be corrected. It was not how we remembered ourselves. We thought we looked different.
Did we really look like that? How could we have our hair cut in that way? Why did we pull that face?
Would we do that today? Who were we back then? The selfie gives us a new record of ourselves over time!
It is fixed. The selfie is permanent. The selfie does not lie.
Putting aside how the selfie will be stored over the years: the pictures of ourselves remain.
Before the invention of the camera humans did not have this option. They could see themselves in the water, or reflective glass. But the image was fleeting, passed in a moment. It was not held in a photograph. There was no evidence which could be revealed from the past at any time to ourselves and others.
The idea of permanence in our culture pervades. Is it a trick? Nothing is permanent. Everything is in transition. Yet we are duped into thinking permanence is possible. Insurance helps us to feel secure: a type of permanence. We buy property to feel secure.
Perhaps the selfie does us a dis-service. It creates the illusion that we are changeable but permanent.
Before photography humans were closer to the idea that permanence is not possible. In the modern age we are able to manipulate images, life styles and the world around us. We are removed from the natural impermanence of life. Nature is a constant cycle of birth, renewal, life and death.
To ignore this is to be removed from a natural cycle of existence.
Copyright Adrian Scott North London Counsellor Blog 2013
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Disclaimer: This weblog is the view of the writer and for general information only.
This article is designed to provoke argument and critique.