Galen Guengerich, senior minister of All Souls Unitarian Church (New York City, NY) and of author of God Revised (one of my top books of 2013), recently wrote about the “selfie culture” on the occasion of the Oxford Dictionary adding this word to their 2013 edition. Selfies are pictures people take of themselves then share via social media. They are doing far more than merely cluttering social media feeds. Guengerich writes:
This moment in dictionary history may also represent the culmination of the smartphone’s development — the time when its transcendent purpose becomes clear. With smartphone in hand, we can now share with others how our narcissism looks to us. In this sense, the selfie chronicles a counter-Copernican revolution. Increasingly, everything once again revolves around us, but now individually. This is not just the year of the selfie; this is the age of the selfie.
The age of the selfie is here. I suspect (perhaps with an overly optimistic bias) that the images themselves as a primary type of social media content may prove more of a fad than something that turns into a norm for years to come. This specific type of photo is however merely one of many ever evolving expressions of narcissism in a consumer culture that is becoming more and more about the self, and which promotes increased pressure for individuals to seek to create ever more perfect presentations of the self. The “world is all about me” ideology of the 2010s is a postmodern me-centrism about which we should all be concerned.
- Have you ever posted a selfie on a social media site? If so, how often do you do so and what do you think of the overall experience? If not, how often have you encountered this type of content and how has such led you to rethink your perceptions about those shown in the selifes you view?
- Are selfies and the larger ideology they represent or at least suggest consistent with your faith? Explain.