Selfie: A strange phenomenon in which the photographer is also the subject of the photograph.
The folks who coined the term “The Lonely Planet”, were on to something. We, Earth, are the galactic equivalent of, well to say it plainly — the worst kind of nouveau riche arrivistes, the planetary equals of Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, who was laughed at and left out of all kinds of reindeer fun and frolic. This is why despite billions being spent on space programs we haven’t found life in our galaxy — and please heed me well here the genius minds at NASA and ISRO — we aren’t ever going to, because the life forms we are looking for, don’t want to be found by us. Do you even wonder at why other intelligent life forms elude us?
Look at us, no seriously. We are in the grand scheme of things, the newest kids on the block, just about a minute away in the evolutionary ladder from apes, which may not necessarily be perceived as an upgrade. We smell, so bad we’ve managed to make a hole the size of a continent in our own atmosphere (like an embarrassing rip in the seat of your pants). We are loud, mouthy, flashy and victims of the most deleterious kind of hubris. We can send out the fanciest invites, in this case missile shaped missives, but no one wants to come to our party. Though the list of social faux pas, is long and litigious, let me add that being the civilization/planet/species that invented the selfie isn’t helping us any.
If I had to reserve any kind of judgment for a month, with the caveat that I would be allowed, after that month is over, to unleash all my fury, angst, ire and disdain on any one topic; it would be the selfie! Just writing the word causes my brain to short-circuit. That it has found such easy purchase amongst us is enough to keel me over. It is the embodiment of everything that is going wrong with our society and I can’t wait for it to gain ignominy and be relegated to the archives like the mullet (a hairstyle at some point in time trendy, where the front is cut short and the back is left long) and ridiculed just as vehemently.
For starters, how about we leave the photographing to the professionals? Albeit in short supply there are some extremely talented people, who take pictures for a living. They know what angles to use, how to play with light and all about exposure and aperture and other similarly named aspects to the art form that is photography. Surrender yourselves to them, I beg you. They can do a far better job of capturing your mug than any shaky, lopsided, out of focus, badly lit, selfie can. If you are unable to find such a benevolent soul, grab a passer by, plead with them, bribe them if you have to but allow a third person to capture you at what you presume is your finest or most definitive!
Now the Selfie is a many-headed hydra, there is the the belfie (body selfie — don’t even get me started) and the groupfie, which is, shudder of shudders a group selfie. A couple of months ago, during the terrifying Sydney hostage crises at the Lindt café (oh wait, that’s too far back, almost ancient, as we have now developed along with a thick epidermis some sort of attention deficit disorder which renders redundant anything beyond the two-week backlog!). Some obdurate smartphone brandishers, were spotted taking selfies with Ground Zero as the backdrop. Bad taste doesn’t even begin to cover just how appalling I found this kind of behaviour. But it thrives un-staunched by good sense and deference to any kind of acceptable behavior public or private. We as a society are increasingly turning self-indulgent and self-obsessed. Our need to capture every micro minute of our day, has reached epic proportions of idiocy. The duck-face, newsflash its not cute or sexy, its moronic, please put your pout away! Destinations are now irrelevant, they are a means to an end, and moments have morphed into mass poses. Native Americans believed that a photograph could steal a persons soul, I tend to agree — the more time you spend in front of your cameraphone is directly proportional to how soulless you have become.
Last week, the youngest but one member of my clan decided to get married, an intimate affair, in Seychelles. In the span of the two days it took those two very lovely people to make it official, we shared meals, swapped stories, listened to music — some even dared to dance, bonded, swam in the ocean and soaked up the sun – not one selfie was taken or posed for, it was the most beautiful wedding I have ever had the good fortune to be at. For the first time in ages, I felt I participated in something, it was refreshing and real. I took home a precious few photographs, but more memories. I find myself looking at those pictures all the time and remembering fondly those days in the sun. When was the last time a selfie brought any emotion flooding back?
Speaking of the sun — I returned home burnt lobster red, and smarting, called my doctor for some help with relieving the sting — ‘How bad is it?’ she asked, ‘Send me a selfie.’