SELFIE STICK & ME
Imagine an archaeological dig site in 1000 years time. A long aluminium stick with a claw on one end and button on the other is found. After much research it is discovered to be a ‘selfie-stick’ from the 21st Century. It is displayed in the National Museum with the following inscription “Selfie Stick – A popular photographic tool used by our ancestors to capture a moment in time with the operator of the device being the main attraction.”
Most of us have participated in a ‘selfie’ or possess our own ‘selfie-stick’. I remember being told by a professional photographer that where possible include a person/people in holiday scenery snaps, as this can help to recall where and when the photo was taken. However the scenery or event remained the subject of the photo, unlike today. The selfie-stick phenomena in which we are now living has shifted the attention to ‘self’- being at the centre and all else as incidental.
This is not a new trend. Reflecting back through the years to family snaps, our usual reaction when seeing them for the first time is to look for myself. If it’s a good photo of me then I love the snap and may even put it on display, regardless of what everyone else looks like. If it’s a bad photo of me although everyone else looks fantastic, the photo could be relegated to the bottom drawer.
So fundamentally little has changed when it comes to photography and our response to it. The basic human need to be acknowledged, or even adored, is a temptation faced by many. The current affair with the selfie stick feeds this ego centric desire and can easily become an inordinate attachment and sometimes an addiction which feeds our need for recognition.
The voice of social media today bombards us with the messages that we are of value and acceptable, only if we are at our most glamorous and sometimes we are driven to post a selfie which proves this. Now of course, it’s possible with body-slimming, skin smoothing and age-defying filters and apps, to change our appearance, to change from our true self to that which will be acceptable to others. The number of ‘likes’ we get will tell us if we’ve been successful in this task.
A recent quote I read said “People get obsessed with likes. It’s an addictive drug. You get a taste of it, and then you want it more and more. People can tell you the precise moment they broke 100 likes”. Alternately we can feel ostracised and depressed if we do not receive the desired response. This can cause a spiral into an abyss of depression, which can have terrible consequences.
We would do well to heed the words found in Samuel 16:7 – “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
As Christians, we are not called to throw away the selfie-stick. However I believe we are challenged to look beyond the ‘self’. A selfie can be a wonderful tool to enable us to look at the world a little differently. A photo is usually taken to seize a moment, an emotion, a scene or a place which holds importance to us. Look beyond self in the picture and ‘see’ what is happening in the background. Your photo may contain an act of kindness, of love or joy. If scenery, its beauty could remind you of the Majesty of God. Look to the other people in the photo. Give thanks to God for them. Be real and true to yourself. Give thanks for who you are created to be in God’s Image. Psalm 139:14 says, “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well.”
Selfies do not have to be narcissistic; they can and should include the other.
Let us continue to capture the moment! But also learn to see beyond ourselves. It is then that our world is enlarged, our lives are enriched and God is given praise and thanks.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ann Brereton lives in Tasmania, Australia with her husband David of 40 years. Ann’s ministry involves over 40 years in leadership positions including being the first woman National Chairperson of the Australian National Service Committee. She also served as a member of the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services (ICCRS) situated at the Vatican. She is a mother to 4 sons and grandmother to 6 granddaughters, has lived as a Missionary in Uganda and travelled extensively as a Conference Speaker. You can connect with her on Instagram @ann.brereton.18