The belief that we take too many pictures may be an odd one to be held by a blogger – particularly one whose posts have a picture to text ratio of about 9:1. But then again, I also believe it unacceptable to eat beef (due to my love of cows) despite eating all of its farmyard friends, so let’s presume from now on that my thoughts are a mixture of oddness/hypocrisy.
My trail of thought began on an innocent summers evening, where I had just purchased my new ‘Cooler’ magazine. As I turned to the Editors letter, I was hit with an array of questions. “How many selfies do you have on your phone? Or Instagram? Are they really only there because you were desperate to take a picture when there was nobody else around? Was it not just vanity?” Before I knew it I was seeing words such as ‘narcissism’ and phrases such as ‘drowning in a pool of self-love’ and our personalities disappearing ‘in a quest for Instagram likes, Facebook comments and tumblr followers.’
What was happening?! I don’t even take selfies!! But why did I feel like I was being accused? Was I any less guilty because I used photos other people had taken of me? Has my excuse of ‘it’s for my blog’ finally been revealed?
As I sat in a state of bewilderment, I began thinking about the reasons why we post ‘selfies’. Because really there’s only one. No-one posts a picture of themselves and hopes for it not to be liked: a close-up mugshot is just asking for attention. And it is, at the end of the day, vain – nobody gets a perfect shot first time. That’s gotta be a whole lot of self-lovin to sit and take a load of pictures of your face. And then just a bit more to think that all of your friends/followers want to see these photos too.
Now I have never taken a selfie (it’s hard!), but as my friend pointed out, having other people take a picture for me is just as bad. My friends and I will always take photos of each other before we leave on a night out. And no it’s not for a nice photo of all us to look back on, it’s usually for a nice new shiny profile picture. As I began to think about all the photos we take, I thought to myself – what pictures would we take if social networking didn’t exist? If we didn’t have the internet to share these pictures? Because it would be a whole lot different – you never look through granny’s old photo albums to see a load of pouting close-ups of her face with “not sure about this one?” scribbled underneath.
Suddenly I had an epiphany. I felt wiser, as though my 2 years of studying Philosophy had really paid off. Wasn’t it ironic, that by posing for pictures to show to everyone that we’re enjoying the moment, we’re actually missing out that moment? Last year at Wireless festival I spent so much time trying to get pictures of Rihanna that I may as well just have sat home on Google all night. And who really cares? Did I need 100 photos of Rihanna? No. And do I really want to see yet another picture of your face on my timeline? No probably not. And when I questioned my other friends they all generally agreed – selfies are sad, bad and attention seeking.
Just as I was thinking of changing my entire life and never taking another photo again, a reply came through from one of my friends who does take selfies. Do you think it’s bad that we only take pictures for likes I had asked her. Yeah, she had replied – but who cares? And as I thought about her answer, I realised she was right. It’s not the end of the world that we like taking pictures of ourselves. Whilst I still personally don’t think I would ever take a selfie, maybe I should just admire the confidence of the people who do. Yeah it’s vain, but sometimes there’s nothing wrong with a bit of that: if you look good, share it with everyone. We’ll probably be old and fat soon so let’s take plenty while it lasts.
Disclaimer: this is an old post written from 2014. Since then, I have indeed taken a selfie. It’s still hard.