Sunday, October 4, 2015

Is it Healthy to Take a Selfie?

Recently, a video of a bunch of sorority girls taking selfies at an Arizona Diamondbacks game went viral to the tune of more than 36 million views. (If you’re one of the few lucky people who haven’t seen it yet and feel you must waste the next minute of your life viewing this mind-numbing spectacle, click here.

When I saw this video my inner curmudgeon came raging to the surface with fists in the air and my old man voice in full tremble. “What’s wrong with these kids these days, with their cellphones and their picture taking and their obliviousness to the world around them? Why can’t they put that devil’s technology down and watch the perfectly wholesome baseball game going on right in front of them?”

Disgusted, I was! What kind of narcissist would ever desecrate the great American pastime by completely ignoring the game and taking a selfie? Then I thought back to the last time I was at a Diamondbacks game a couple months ago and remembered this:

Yep, apparently I’m the kind of narcissist who would desecrate the great American pastime by completely ignoring the game and taking a selfie. I could try to pawn off the idea on my son, but that would be a bald-faced lie. I thought to do it, I held the phone, and I pressed the button. So don’t aim your pitchforks at my kid—this is all on me.

Indeed, selfies are just the latest in a long line of technology-borne behaviors that I initially abhorred and eventually embraced (at first reluctantly and then enthusiastically.) First I swore I would never text, because you should just call somebody if you need to tell them something! Now I text. Then I swore I would never tweet because why in the world would people who I don’t know care what I’m thinking in 140 characters or less?!? Now I tweet. Then I swore I would never blog because I’m a real writer, dammit, and my work is supposed to appear on the printed page. Now I blog. And finally, coming back to the topic at hand, I swore I would never take a selfie, because I’m not a vapid, self-absorbed, vain, egomaniac who needs constant photographic evidence of my existence. Now I take selfies. 

In my defense, it’s not like I’m taking selfies on a daily basis. I could go weeks between selfies. In fact, I didn’t take one selfie in the entire month of September! That’s right, my last selfie was the one below, taken on August 31, 2015.

(Of course, that selfie was taken in a men’s room, which brings up a whole other range of psychological questions.)

Ultimately, I think the lesson to be learned here is that cultural norms change, especially when spurred on by new technology. Perhaps the thing to do is just roll with the punches and jump on board the technology train when it comes into your station. Unless, of course that train wants me to read books electronically, in which case I hope it derails, because the only way you would get me to let go of a printed book is by prying it out of my cold, dead hands.