Maybe it’s satire. You know? Maybe they’re just poking some fun while trying to cash in on the latest fad. To be honest? That’s probably it — but my problem is not with their business sense.
#Selfie by the Chainsmokers has been climbing to the top of charts since its release late January and garnered over 40 million views on YouTube. If you haven’t heard the song, you’re not missing much – except a headache and possibly an unfortunate desire to go and “take another Selfie.” Selfie was named “word of the year” by the Oxford Dictionary in 2013 (it wasn’t until I looked it up to write this post that I realized this wasn’t a joke!), and as reported by CNN there are now more than 54 million photos on Instagram with the hashtag selfie. It’s statistics like these that are highlighting, for me, a bigger problem:
When did we all become so vapid and self-centered?
It probably started innocently enough: With the onset of sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter etc… all requiring profile pictures – it made sense to occasionally turn the camera inward and snap a shot or two so that you could be properly identified online by friends/family. Then, of course, the phone companies started to make self-facing cameras the standard, and the trend intensified.
Selfies themselves are not the issue, only a symptom. The internet and social media sites are continually hailed as being pioneers of connectivity – putting us in touch with more people in more places every day. And yes: It’s amazing, it really is. But the focus of this connectivity is no longer so much about making/maintaining human relationships as it is a scramble to become a self-made celebrity. Comment sections are rife with people begging for “shout outs and reposts,” because today’s savvy internet user isn’t interested in friendships, they’re interested in followings — Narcissism isn’t a new concept, but with the advent of Social Media, he’s becoming our best friend.
The harm here is that this culture of self-adoration doesn’t limit itself to the internet, and when too many people become “all about me” it means bad news for everyone else.
For example: John F. Kennedy’s 1961 inaugural address is famous for the slogan, “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” But there are some other gems in that speech that are less well-known, but no less powerful:
“To those peoples in the huts and villages across the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves, for whatever period is required…” (emphasis added)
“In your hands, my fellow citizens, more than in mine, will rest the final success or failure of our course.”
-John F. Kennedy, Jan 20th, 1961
Statements like these, emphasizing personal accountability and work ethic are sorely missed. It seems to me that the unsaid slogan of today has become, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what it hasn’t done already, and demand that!”
**Note: The big irony of this post is that every time I tried to write "Selfies", my auto-correct wanted to change it to, selfless.