New era of ‘Selfie’ culture

Sanjay Puri
In today’s digital obsessed world, the selfie culture has ingrained into our society new dimensions of modern style and outlook.  It has become a huge trend in the social media. A selfie is a self photograph, typically taken with a digital camera or camera phone supported by a selfie stick. Selfies are often shared on social networking sites such as Facebook and Instagram.
The world ‘Selfie’ was picked as the word of the year 2013 by lexicographers responsible for updating the oxford dictionary. For a child, a selfie is playing with one’s expressions; for grownups, selfies are a part of daily lives.  It might be a hobby or an obsession when the first thing do in gatherings and occasions is clicking a selfie and upload it on to various social media for ‘likes’ and comments. It might be a celebration of friendship, reunions, achievements or a good food.
Selfies are now common in our society because  the inclusion of reserve cameras in smart phones. The first innovation to what is closest to Selfie was when Apple released the iphone 4 in 2010, the first mobile phone with a front facing camera, making it easier to snap pictures of ourselves than ever. It is a selfie fanatics dream, who can now take and upload a photo of themselves from anywhere with a touch of button.
Selfies have changed the way we look at the world with the generation that is growing up in the world surrounded by technology that is practically made for selfie taking, front facing photos have become the new way for younger people to communicate with family and friends to share experiences and memories. The youth today are more conscious of their looks, as evidenced by the presence of a multi-billion dollar cosmetic industry. They consider their looks to be important when it comes to making friends or impressing their romantic interests. Hence, youth beautify themselves for their selfies. The selfie uploaded, is then offered for public approval or disapproval. When young people begin to see Facebook and Instagram “likes” and “followers” as a way of self-validation, they will pay more attention to their bodies and faces, particularly when the “edited”, “photoshopped” self must be made to correspond with real – life appearances.
People are obsessed over their selfies so much so that they begin to compare themselves with models and celebrities they see on copious media outlets. Such unhealthy and unrealistic comparison afflicts especially the precarious teenagers with depression, anxieties and other psychological maladies.
In the attempt to “capture” experiences through the lens of the camera, in the attempt to share our selfies as soon as possible, part of the experience itself is lost. Instead of making the most of our travels, we risk reducing ourselves to objects of our own photography, losing sight of the beauty around us. Selfies can condition us that having a photo with an event is a must. It’s as if not having a picture with you on the scene means that it did not happen. Even “extreme” activities must now be chronicled with a selfie. Dinner dates, shopping and even sleeping is documented via selfies. People obsessed with selfies tend to be narrow-minded and selfish, as their primary focus is only on their own self. Nothing is as low and pitiable as self – advertiser.
Globally, it is estimated that one million selfies are taken every day. Selfies have their consequences positive or negative; depending on how individuals utilize it. Selfies used for a good cause as campaign or awareness will have a good impact on the society. It is true that selfie helps boost one’s confidence to face the camera. Certainly, it is not abnormal to take selfies, but to take selfies compulsively is abnormal. Uploading ‘unpresentable’ images can never be equated with ratiocination.
Some selfie users even invaded dourly places and funerals, which is not rational at all. Taking selfies on sad or solemn occasion is certainly an uncultured behaviour and needs to be discouraged. Teens and young adults who have low self-esteem and most importantly, a long history of alienation by their peers are more likely to engage in frequent negative attention –seeking behaviours. So they will do almost anything to get noticed or to fit in with others.
This trend of taking selfies may seem harmless but are we making a generation of self obsessed narcissistic adults who take selfies to keep their egos up. People are so focused on themselves- on how they will look and how they will appear online that they forget to engage with the real world. People do not bother to talk and remain busy with their cell-phones. It can be seen that a person sitting next to the other is more interested in taking selfies than talking to other persons.
Albert Einstein said it beautifully more than half a century ago. His words are timeless. “It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.”
We should be careful not be caught in a selfie culture that diminishes the value of experiences, heightens the value of physical appearances overemphasizes the need to be photographed, and unreflectively overexposes the self. Let not this culture lead us away from our culture heritage of being social.
As Gandhi ji said, “I do not want my house to be closed by walls on all sides and windows to be stuffed. Rather, I want all the cultures to blow freely through my house. But I do not want to be swept off my feet by any of them.”