Let me start by saying I don’t bemoan anyone that likes selfies. Hell, do you. But for me, I dislike them and what they represent in our society today. I even tried to take more selfies for a year, and failed miserably. While I acknowledge I’m placing my own bias and perspective on this subject and those that choose to partake, I think my sentiments aren’t that unique. This movement for me has grown into something bigger than it was. Once upon a time, my response to people asking why I don’t take selfies was relatively simple. “I’m not a 12-year-old female”. While dismissive I admit, at the time selfies were something almost exclusively reserved for young teenage girls. Today, it’s evolved into a massive business. With thousands upon thousands of people making entire careers out of taking selfies. It’s become an accepted part of our culture. But is that necessarily a good thing?
I Believe the Children Are Our Future (#Whitney4Life)
While this selfie culture definitely is a mainstream issue, I’m going to stick with social media influencers and bloggers. So many new bloggers (hell, older/long time influencers as well) are sacrificing authenticity for the “perfect” selfie. Selling the myth of perfection behind Instagram and VSCO filters. While I’m not opposed to retouching or filters, I am opposed to this constant narrative of perfection. Which many don’t realize destroys the self-esteem of so many. Granted, I’m an asshole. I think finding validity in how others see you is ridiculous. But, I recognize the fact that young people are impressionable and insecure at times. Something I don’t think many in our industry realize (or do and are actively manipulating that fact).
With that said, I understand the importance of young people seeing those who look like them exploring the world. Just not in EVERY SINGLE PICTURE YOU POST!!!!!
For those of us that have been in this game awhile, I feel we have a responsibility to show new influencers a better way. To show them the power of what we do. How our words, images, and professionalism can change the world. Look beyond the dollar signs and instant gratification to the long lasting effects. But that’s the idealist in me I know. When you know better, you do better.
I Believe in Follower/Creator Boundaries
I’ve been called a victim blamer. A moniker I happily accept in many cases. And being on the older end of the millennial spectrum, I have a different perspective on how much personal information belongs in the public domain. A good friend of mine is a solo female travel blogger. Her Instagram feed is covered in selfies. About half of them in various stages of undress and implied nudity. She constantly complains about “creepy old guys” sending her messages and offering her gifts. Unwanted advances aren’t ok. However, we can not be blind to the consequences of our actions. AGAIN for the easily offended, because a woman posts half naked (or even naked) images of herself online doesn’t mean she deserves to be harassed. But my question, why put yourself out there like that in a world we KNOW is dangerous? We KNOW people will use these images against you. We KNOW the dangers of social media and information sharing. Yet, we persist. And the cycle continues. There has to be a line we don’t cross and we can’t be surprised of the consequences when we do cross those lines. We all need to protect ourselves. And I feel selfies and the culture they represent (one of exposure) is a huge issue when it comes to personal security.
I Believe in Story Telling
I’m speaking as a travel journalist here. I feel with the rise of blogging and social media, journalistic standards and integrity have dropped significantly. While many don’t consider themselves journalist (influencers), they sure as hell make money off presenting themselves as such. Selfies CAN tell a story. But they rarely do. Instantly, the narrative becomes look at me. Look at how beautiful I am. Look at how great my life is. But is that the story? Is that what passes for narrative now? For me, travel isn’t about me. It’s about the people, places, and things I experience. It’s about telling their stories and realities. Showing people what they may experience. So few “selfie addicts” do this. I find selfies to be a sales tactic. What are people selling you might ask? Themselves.
I Believe In Staying In Touch With Reality
In what world is it ok to take smiling selfies at a Concentration camp? If one steps back and truly thinks about it, there are certain places we would never even consider taking a selfie. Gleefully posing and displaying our self-absorption and narcissism. Places which have had untold amounts of pain, poverty, and injustice seeped into the very ground which we walk. My argument is that selfies remove you from the “moment”. For better or worse your mind is solely focused on yourself and how others will view you. Not on the immediate world around you (outside of the perfect lighting and backdrop of course). And this is heartbreaking from a travelers perspective. People are missing what makes places like Rome, Angkor Wat, or New York City truly special. Travelers aren’t focusing on the sights, sounds, and smells of a place. While our selfie culture isn’t the only thing that’s contributed to this, it’s certainly on the list of culprits.