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Archive for March, 2014

Perhaps my imagination is exaggerating a phenomenon, but it seems that I can’t turn on the TV or go to social media without hearing about (and seeing) “selfies.” Okay, it can be a fairly harmless pastime. But like anything we do, it also tells us something about ourselves. Is our culture becoming more narcissistic, or does it just seem that way? I don’t pretend to know the answer to that question, but there are some indicators that seem to send a message.

How many of our commercials are based on improving the outside? Beauty products, weight loss, exercise equipment, plastic surgeries dominate the airways. Did you notice the list includes weight loss and exercise equipment? Aren’t those good things? Yes, if we use them to improve our health. At the same time, these good things (like all things) can be taken to extremes. Dieting can turn to anorexia or bulimia.

I want to avoid the temptation to simply label things as “wrong” or “evil.” Our lives are too complex for those judgments. I do, however, have a concern about the degree to which our culture pushes us to become self-absorbed.

There is a danger that too much indulgence in things such as “selfies” or products that concentrate on developing the physical part of me can lead to the perhaps subconscious idea that “life is all about me.” Perhaps it might be good to take that cell phone camera, and turn it out instead of in. Point it toward those around us who may be dealing with a pain that just won’t go away. They may be hiding it by taking their own “selfies” as a desperate cry for someone to look at them, to value them, to help them deal with struggles they desperately seek to hide, because they’re afraid to reveal their doubts and fears.

I’m not saying we should stop saying “selfies” or that they are an evil practice. But the next time you take a “selfie,” why not then take a few minutes to talk with those around you and genuinely get to know them? Let’s spend less time looking in the mirror and more time really seeing those around us. We just might find that it makes us feel more satisfied and fulfilled too. Maybe there is a selfish motive here after all. I’m willing to risk that. How about you?

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