#selfie: Charitable Narcissism or Simply Self(ie)-Obsession?

Have selfies taken over?

Like most people nowadays, I am partial to the odd selfie. What could be better than contorting your face into a ridiculous form, taking a picture and then posting on the Internet? Not much. However, this recent trend has now reached new levels, which for me are slightly disconcerting, spawning its own dance hit.

At the Oscars, Ellen De Generes took a selfie with some of the most famous people in the world (sorry Liza Manelli), and it broke Twitter. The Twittersphere went ballistic, and hashtags abounded. This selfie has led to spate of copycat incidents across the web with many re-enactments of the famous scene flooding the web. This raised an important question: what is the point of a selfie?

Someone decided that selfies could be put to use for a good cause, and out of this spawned the No-Makeup Selfie, whereby women took pictures of themselves wearing no makeup in an effort to expose the real them. This is one of the many internet crazes born out of the Nominations sensation that swept the country. Women were nominated by their friends to take a No-Makeup selfie and post it online. Some bright spark harnessed the power of sheer narcissism to raise money for charity.

The No-Makeup Selfie for Breast Cancer Research was born. There can be no doubt that this method of raising money has been successful, I am certain that many thousands of pounds have been raised in this way. There have even been spinoffs of this idea to raise money for other causes such as the male version, which raises money for Testicular Cancer research. However, what does a picture of your face have to do with breast cancer research? I would argue not much.

Some women have taken a different approach and when pressured into taking a selfie by their friends, they have instead simply donated to the cause and posted useful information about breast cancer and checking for it in the comfort of your own home. In my mind, this is far more useful to anyone than a picture of your makeup free face increasing awareness and providing useful information that can make a real difference to women out there.

Let us not forget, fellow humans that there are other, just as valid (some would argue better) ways of raising money for a good cause. Recently, the London Marathon saw over 40,000 people running its length, many of whom were aiming to make a difference by pushing themselves to the limit to raise money for charity. Surely, it can be strongly argued that the money raised in this way is money that has been raised through genuine love and commitment, rather than through selfie-obsession.

Furthermore, this worrying trend of ‘selfying’ can but increase the modern narcissism that surrounds us. How many of us actually experience the day-to-day wonders of our lives NOT through a camera lens? Now, not only are we experiencing life through a mechanical eye, we are not even looking at the world around us, only the slivers of it that make it into the image around the grotesquely zoomed in image of our own faces. We might as well wear mirrors in front of us the whole time! Indeed, the craze has reached a new and ridiculous level. When visiting London last week, I noticed that worryingly, many people had their cameras perched on long, extendable sticks. This is it humanity, brace yourselves, the Selfie Stick has arrived. Did any of them actually look at the Houses of Parliament with their actual eyes I hear you ask? No, they were too busy facing the other way in order somehow to get the tiniest bit of its magnificent architecture into their picture.

In no way am I suggesting that any money raised for a good cause through the casual barefaced selfie is in any way insignificant. In fact, it is a highly intelligent concept, who would have thought a year ago that we all could make money from peer pressure and makeup remover? I just think that there are more productive ways to spend our time than looking at ourselves through a lens and posting it to social media. If social media is such a powerful and widespread force, surely someone could have come up with a more mature and less narcissistic way of raising money?

I’m sure the trend will pass, simply another internet fad lost in the digital winds of time, however, I will continue to watch with growing consternation and burgeoning dissatisfaction as our human potential is slowly but surely eroded by the selfie-obsessed slaves of internet peer pressure.

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