Flip the camera, lift it up so as to get a better angle (making your cheekbones more pronounced), take the picture. Filter and edit so your skin looks unnaturally perfect, post with #selfie and innumerable other hashtags so that as many people as possible find your picture (a necessity if the picture is to be singled out from the other 80 million #me selfies currently on Instagram). The likes come in, the supposedly self-esteem boosting comments ‘GORGE’, ‘BABE’ and ‘STUNNER’ soon follow. It’s going to be a great day. Maybe you’ll post another one later of your confident self.
This trend, that so many (admittedly myself as well) have fallen into feels much different when you see it written down. Cringe.
There are lots of articles out there being written about our current selfie obsession. From articles by Teen Vogue to Christianity Today, many are offering both positive and negative critiques of this practice. For this piece though, I just want to offer a few thoughts that hopefully provoke some reflection on the trend.
Social Media has led to (in conjunction with other things) an intense culture of comparison amongst our generation. We spend a fair amount of time each day perusing Facebook posts about our friend’s lives, browsing Instagram pictures of our friend’s selfies and the other incredibly fun and idyllic activities they are doing, or reading Tweets in which the superior wit, intellect, spirituality etc. of those we follow is showcased in one long stream. I don’t know about you, but spending time staring at all of this leads to quite a bit of reflection about how many things I could do better.
For women, comparison is a well-designed trap from the evil one- especially comparison of our physical appearance and the overall attractiveness of our life to that of our friends, strangers on social media, or celebrities. We do not, however, just simply peruse social media sites to gaze longingly at the lives of others, we put ourselves out there as well. We post pictures, statuses, tweets and pictures showcasing how beautiful and funny our lives are. Enter the selfie.
Have you ever asked yourself before posting a selfie- why am I doing this? How affected will I be by the response of others, whether positive or negative? What am I saying about myself by posting this? Or do you choose, like I did for awhile, to ignore the nagging feeling that something was slightly off about the selfie?
It was these questions that convicted me some time ago that selfies really weren’t a good thing. In fact, they were bad. My responses to those questions went something like this:
“Why are you doing this Mary Rose?”
“Umm...if I really think about it I guess I’m doing it because I want to feel the approval of others and feel beautiful like everyone else in my newsfeed.”
“How affected will you be by the response of others, whether positive or negative?”
“If people don’t like the picture I’ll probably take it down. On the other hand, if I get a lot of ‘likes’ I’ll feel pretty great about myself.”
“What are you saying about yourself by posting this?”
“I don’t know if I want to think about this question...because then I realize that all I’m really saying is ‘look at me!’, which really just makes me feel like a 2 year old.”
Ladies- let’s not seek approval from others in this way in order to build ourselves up. A true boost in self-esteem and confidence is not going to come from outside ourselves, it’s going to come from an inner realization that we are made in the image and likeness of a heavenly Father who has and will always love us more madly and deeply and truly than we will ever fully know.
Let’s take time to enjoy and appreciate the world He has placed us in, rather than constantly seeking to say ‘look at me!’ by way of a selfie, a particularly witty or intelligent tweet or a Facebook post that showcases your beautiful life. Let’s not buy into a culture that tells us we need to make our lives appear beautiful to those we know or don’t know or haven’t spoken to for years. We are enough and our lives are a beautiful thing to the One who created us.
Social media isn't necessarily all bad, but it requires a conscious and concerted effort to make it something good and useful. Let’s challenge ourselves to be creative and focused on building the kingdom and embracing our call as daughters of the King. If we are truly looking to embrace our call as Christians, then we must be prepared to reflect this in everything we post online.