02 Sep On Selfies
The Oxford Dictionary records the word “Selfie” as the word of the year for 2013. A selfie is a self-portrait, taken with a hand-held digital camera or a camera phone. of ultra confidence lies a fragile
To some extent, we can say that selfie culture equals Narcissism. Narcissus, in Greek mythology, was a hunter known for his beauty. Nemesis, a goddess, noticed this behavior and attracted Narcissus to a pool, where he saw his own reflection in the water and fell in love with it, not realizing it was merely an image. Unable to leave the beauty of his reflection, Narcissus drowned. Narcissus is the origin of the term Narcissism, a fixation with oneself and one’s physical appearance. This in the long run ends in a Narcissistic personality disorder which is a self-esteem that is vulnerable to the slightest criticism. Shooting selfies, posting selfies and admiring selfies can lead to this psychological disorder. As children of God we should guard ourselves against this danger.
We humans have a basic instinct to admire our beauty, appearance and physique. Who does not glance sideways in the nearest mirror, and adjust his dress and tress? The Bible teaches us to love ourselves, because our altruistic love should be a measure of our egoism. But we have to exercise caution here. The Word of God also says that any mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for admiration and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask
prospective follower of Jesus must deny himself in order to follow Him. (Lk. 9:23). Paul considers his best works “rubbish”. In Mat.23:12, we read that “whoever exalts himself will be humbled and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted”. First and foremost we believe that God gave His one and only Son to us in order to save us from eternal condemnation. Such self-sacrifice is the essence of the Gospel, which is called agape love. We Christians are told to show this kind of love to others. But the selfie culture takes us the other way round – a selfish exhibition of us to the world around. Today’s selfies exalt the self. When we post a selfie, there is a clarion cry “Hey, I am here! Look at me”. We draw the attention of others around us to ourselves, and our interests like what we wear, what we had for dinner and the like. We are so proud of our own appearance, and that contradicts the words of the wise-head: “Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth; an outsider, and not your own lips”. Prov. 27:2. Secondly, selfies can lead us to a self-serving and self-glorifying culture. It is said that a 19 year old British teenager, Danny Bowman, spent up to 10 hours each day taking photos of himself on his i-phone. This addiction became so debilitating that he dropped out of school and retreated into his home for six months. He said, ‘I was constantly in search of taking the perfect selfie and, when I realized I couldn’t, I wanted to die….I lost my friends, my education, my health and almost my life.’ Daily Mirror reports that he committed suicide. (Source: Internet)
Thirdly, we must know what this selfie communicates to the innumerable people who see it. If a selfie shows the world how beautiful we become when we are in Christ, it is welcome. Our beaming smiles should show that we are happy in the Lord. Our new attire should reveal our gratitude to God who blessed us with that attire.
Finally, the world knows little about familial happiness. Unbiblical divorces and family feuds continue to rise. In this context, use your God gifted camera/smart phones to honour God by posting pictures of your siblings/parents hugging you. Show the world that your life is not just centred around yourself, but on others too.
Dr Richard Samuel
The author, a retired professor lives in Chennai and is involved in UESI ministries and Publication Trust. His Wife Ahalya and children are also involved in UESI Ministries