Selfie Mental Illness??? The Good and Bad of the Selfie

We all have heard the claims that selfies cause mental illness. Truth be told, the amount of narcissistic tendencies that are derived from focusing entirely on our own self can’t be good. But we forget that selfies have existed since the dawn of time, we always were staring at our reflection . We were always obsessed on how we look to others… the problem is that it is exacerbated a million times through social media. The problems are bigger than selfies because we live ina  society that objectifies us and places a value only on our physical selves.

But we have heard a lot of these arguments over and over. Perhaps I can only see what selfies have done in my personal experience. Perhaps it is an interesting study on some positive aspects of the selfie. Before I started to ” selfie” I hated taking pictures of myself. You would have trouble finding me in ANY picture and if you did it mainly was me in the background being as inconspicous as possible. It was me allowing myself to be overpowered by others.  I hated taking pictures because sometimes I didn’t like the way they came out, because others were taking them. I had no control on the image that was produced.

When I started doing things like online dating or meetup groups or increasing my writing profile, I was finding that few pictures of myself existed. I started to take pictures of myself. Instead of seeing my flaws, which etched around me in every corner I saw my strengths. I didn’t see the big nose and large pores but I started to see my smile. I didn’t see my squinty eyes and large forehead but saw my pointy eyebrows and quizzical eyes.

I started to be more confident in how I looked. Yet even in the positive side, I also was become less aware of others around me. I was always content to look around me in coffee shops, to see who was walking about in the train. I always wanted to remain unseen. Yet when I started to see how I looked I started to wonder how others saw me. This is a dangerous game to play . We will never know that answer. I think this is the deepest problem with selfies and social media in general. We think we can solve what others are thinking based on comments, likes , dislikes. Humanity is far more complex than that.

FOr now, I remember that a picture is just a faded fleeting moment of who I really am but I should never shy away from it.

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Technology : What are we losing?

Look, I love technology but lately I am looking at what we are losing in consuming so much technology. Here is some of the stuff I can think of :

Social Skills

Remember when oh you know like three years ago- it was bad manners to look/ text/ talk on your cell phone while you were eating dinner with someone? Now it seems like it’s common practice to barely glance at the person you are with or to become increasingly distracted by texts/facebook/applications

It reminds me of this sketch from Portlandia :

Laziness and Inaccuracy

Look we are becoming really, really lethargic. Remember the time when we actually searched for information in concise manner and relied on Encyclopedias for something? You know, those books that they spend years researching each topic?

Most of the time now, you ” wiki’ something and get unreliable information at best. But we don’t ever bother to find out how fallible the posts are. When we have constant information at the tip of our fingertips we tend to look for the easiest answer… we rarely spend time beyond that. Furthermore, how we search for information has drastically changed. It is now more elliptical in nature. We have a very short attention span and we are moving onto the next thing, without fully consumating our knowledge of the Thing Before.

We are becoming lazy. Really lazy. We don’t have to struggle to find information anymore so we don’t make the effort to move past the initial response. Whatever google places on top is good enough for us.

Take another example. Look at Sat Nav’s / Tom Tom’s/ GPS systems. I am reading the book ” Maphead” which is a fascinating look about the history of maps. Now that we have google maps, are we losing the ability and interest in geography? If a machine does all the thinking for us are we then surprised when it gets us lost?

Gone is the wonderment of yore about Other Places. Our quest for discovery. Now, at the tap of a finger we find the right place all the time, anytime. This promotes homogenous thinking and a lack of ability to think independently for ourselves

Google gives a perspective of a chosen path/ website/ idea. We go with it. We no longer seek out the answer for ourselves. It is a well proven fact that the search provided generally goes to the highest bidder to promote corporate interests, not necessarily promoting what you want for yourself.

The Paradox of Choice

If anyone has ever seen this TED talk

We are constantly frozen in a state of indecisiveness ….

We have too many choices. Everyday choices which cause us to be more stressed than satisfied. There is always Something Else that increases or decreases our status.

This constant state of anxiety over choice and our worth being based on consuming that choice makes us not live at peace. Which leads us to

We are losing the ability to live in the moment

We are constantly looking ahead to see the Next Best Thing or what others think of us. We are more focusing on statusing a moment than actually living it. We want to take photographs of something so that it is recorded on facebook and not to enjoy it ourselves. We are constantly using external validation for our own worth.
We are our own television show constantly putting up a face to show to the world and to be impressed by likes, follows and feeds. How often do kids go out in their bikes-device free- and just play with nature?

Which leads to

We are disconnecting ourselves from each other and nature

We are losing our ability to be empathetic, to appreciate the world around us and breathe in the cool and crisp air.

We are losing the ability to care about the truth

A lot of people tend to status things/ blog about them without really caring if it’s true or really caring about the news itself. It is the act of being first which provides satisfaction. There are more people reporting the news , and despite what we believe , that means that we are more competitive on who gets to report it first.

Nowadays, news outlets pick up on ” news” based on a ” Twitter feeds, popular blogs, and all kinds of other stuff. But it’s a spiral of turtle backs, one picking up on the other but it never has an end or why it’s popular in the first place. It takes the idea of fifteen minutes of fame to a whole other level. And if you think bloggers do news out of the goodness of their hearts think again , check out the book ” Trust me , I’m Lying Confessions of Media Manipulator” .

News has always been transitory in nature, but it is getting so cluttered that ” humanitarian stories” now have a shelf life of a month, tops. Memes are created and destroyed within a very short span of time.

Information Overload

On the plane home some people had Kindles, iPods, Ipads,Computer and their mobile/ cell phone. We are constantly in need to be overloading information all the time, we are becoming addicted to becoming ” online” all the time.

Technology is not just typically things like computers and the internet. Everything we use in our daily lives incorporate technology , and as I said before we are not allowing time to breathe before we create something else.

Scientists might study an effect of technology years after it’s incorporated but there are no regulations or limitations to put it out in the market before we analyze the effect it has. It will take decades to measure the full effect of one single invention.

Look at the atomic bomb argument. One theory, one invention created massive repercussions. What if we are creating things which will be use to destroy and not to enlighten? What are we creating things now for? Before it was perhaps for the passion of discovery, of pursuing knowledge but now we are so entrenched in a culture of consumption that we don’t even tend to stop and say WHY.

The things humanity are capable of creating are simply astounding. We have gone beyond anything that is a human comprehension. But it is our mistake in believing that somehow technology controls us instead of us controlling technology. We must not let technology think for us, but use technology to deepen our understanding. It is not an end in of itself but merely a tool.

Technology can cause great beauty