How to Live Selfless in a Selfie World
It’s official. “Selfie” has been added to the Oxford Dictionary: A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website: occasional selfies are acceptable, but posting a new picture of yourself everyday isn’t necessary.
Recently, I read a blog about how a selfie is always a little distorted. People tend to look a little too close or out of proportion. I’m often struck by how not only the image is distorted, but also the subject. Most selfies portray people at their best, in a great location, or doing something exciting. I’ve yet to see a selfie of someone rolling out of bed, hair in all directions, eyes still swollen shut. Selfies tend to distort our reality by showing only the best parts of life.
Navigating the world of selfies is especially challenging for those who claim to look at Jesus as their role model for how to live. Jesus happens to be the most selfless character I can think of. Imagine the selflessness needed for the King of Kings to leave his throne in heaven and take on the form of a tiny helpless baby. He lived in a humble home growing up and worked as a carpenter before launching into his ministry. Even in his ministry, he wandered town to town, visiting the poorest areas and people. He didn’t build himself a beautiful platform and expect others to come to him. He was looking for those who were lost, those who needed healing, those who were willing to receive the gift he had for them.
I remember a sermon I heard as a junior high student when the pastor asked us what kind of glass we preferred – a mirror or a window. The point was to think about how often we look at ourselves and use our time and energy concerned about our own appearance or the time we spend looking out at the beautiful world God has created and the people he designed us to be in relationship with. Looking in the mirror isn’t all bad, but I realized at this self focused age I would miss a lot of life if I spent too much time looking in the mirror instead of out the window—both literally and metaphorically.
I think the selfie fad can be as harmless as looking in a mirror if kept in balance. Even the definition of selfie includes the disclaimer that “occasional selfies are acceptable, but posting a new picture of yourself everyday isn’t necessary.” Selfies seem to be most popular with the self focused population of teens so I wonder if encouraging teens to ask a few simple questions could help them live selfless in a selfie world.
Before taking or posting a selfie ask:
Who will see this picture? Will someone get their feelings hurt if they see me in this picture here knowing they were not invited? Is this picture appropriate for others to see? Would I show this picture to — my mom or dad, my grandparent or some other person I respect?
Why do I want to post picture? Am I posting this to get a laugh and have fun? Am I posting this so to change my image or impress others? Am I hoping to see how many “like” my picture so I feel better about myself?
Does this picture reflect who I am? Is this a distortion of who I am most of the time? Am I reflecting my true character that is important to me? Is it self-inflating or deflating? How does it show who I am in Christ?
I’m sure there are many more brilliant questions out there that would help teens and all of us navigate this new world of selfies. What are your suggestions? It may be as simple as which direction is your camera focused on more, yourself or others?