Just when you think you’ve heard it all, you hear something that just blows your mind. When the selfie became a way of life, I was dismayed that so many young people were becoming addicted to seeing themselves in pictures. I know it’s not just the younger generation that has adopted this facet of life, but they are the majority.
Celebrating life with pictures is great but how many pictures do we need and does having dozens a day enhance or detract from our memory of an occasion? Is everything we do a “special occasion”.
I relished sitting with my mother looking through her photo albums and seeing the moments that were captured, done in rich sepia tones. I had an album but I was not necessarily a photography aficionado. My children have pointed the finger at me for not having pictures of them and their children throughout the house. I can only defend myself by saying that I seem to have a heightened ability to remember faces, and events which I see as my internal photography album.
I realize that I could go on for a very long time-sharing my inability to understand a culture that has such a need to have so much of their lives turned into a history book. What disturbs me beyond the picture-taking is a new phenomenon that is emerging as a result of the selfies. It’s called selfie surgery. It seems that young women are opting to have cosmetic surgery to enhance their images so that they look better in their selfies. Will they, like the mythical figure Narcissus fall in love with their image to the point where their world will simply revolve around themselves?
I feel a sense of sadness that we have evolved into a place where young women are allowing themselves to be swept into a world that is essentially going to showcase them as inauthentic and plastic. Will they all begin to resemble one another like a group of Stepford Wives? What physical template will win out. Will there be a contest to decide which nose, chin,breast implants or lips are the right ones for a selfie? More importantly who will be paying for these cosmetic procedures? Are parents going to opt to give their daughters money for a nose job over a college education? Will boobs win over brains? I hope not!
I can only pray that someone will come along that will help erase some of the Kardashians obsessive need to share their “selfie selves”! Wouldn’t it be refreshing for our culture to have more individuals who see the world through the lens of humility rather than the lens of self-absorption?
I am not only beginning to sound like my mother, but also like my grandmother. When I observe and discuss the culture today with my peers I can see and hear my Italian grandmother Francesca in my head saying: “le cose da un altro mondo”. This saying means “things from another world”. Of course her body language enhanced the words, for she would look towards heaven, arms extended upwards as if in prayer. She was always praying, so perhaps she thought somehow she would receive an answer.
The fact of the matter is that things change and we are often at the mercy of thinking of how things were or how they “should” be. I find myself questioning whether I have become a dinosaur. In some ways I have to stand firm in my belief that we have transitioned into a society that seems to be perennially occupied with gadgets, gizmos, selfies, the pursuit of fame and an almost obsessive need to be busy and self-absorbed.. I suppose that sounds rather condemning, but those who research societal norms seem to agree that we are very disconnected and fragmented. No, it’s not all doom and gloom, but a lot of our culture has become dark and gloomy.
There seems to be a constant need to report all manner of bad news 24/7 and it’s often done in a garrulous fashion. Oh, there are still a couple of anchors that resemble the days of Walter Cronkite and others. However, more often than not it’s a panel of individuals vying for their ten minutes of fame by over talking one another or using insults as a way to appear hip. The Presidential campaign has become a mud-slinging event. It reminds me of the title of a book I have called “ A Confederacy of Dunces”. It feels like I’m back in grade school with kids who used to yell “ Your mother has a mustache”, which now appears angelic compared to some of the remarks we hear daily.
The lack of dignity and respect for others does not only resonate in the political arena, but seems to permeate the world of entertainment. The so-called realty show franchises are filled with cat fights and name calling. Perhaps the media moguls should build a replica of the coliseum and put all these folks in it with a couple of Tigers so we can see a “real” cat fight. I have seen snippets of these shows and others like the Bachelor and Bachelorette series just so I can continue to add to my stash of ludicrous media mindlessness.
So what if anything is there to do about the above and more? I will continue to see the insanity and humor inherent in it. But more importantly, I can only make sure I don’t become part of it!