We all do it. Some more than others. Now that everyone has an HD camera in their pocket, “selfies” are quick and easy. But why do we do it? How did this become a Worldwide phenomenon? I have a few thoughts about this and I’d like to share them with you. They are by no means exhaustive, but I believe the four reasons below will at least bring a few things to light.
Selfie: a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.
At the core, we take pictures of ourselves and post them online for other people to see, like and comment on.
If you think about it, this isn’t really a new idea. Self-portraits have been around since the paint brush, maybe before that.
I think there are a few things fueling our desire to post selfies:
1. We want to be loved
When we post a selfie for the World to see, we eagerly await for the likes and comments to show up from friends and strangers. Sometimes immediately after posting, we stick around for a few minutes and rapidly refresh the page to see how quickly they start rolling in. Why? Because these likes and comments make us feel loved. After all, it was a picture of me, of my face. Maybe we aren’t so ugly after all?
Everyone of us has a deep desire to be loved. It’s what we are all looking for. When we don’t feel loved, we feel empty, hopeless and depressed. God is love. What love is, that is what God is. So if we were made in His image, doesn’t it make sense that we too would have an affinity for love? It is the very thing that defines God. We are able to show love to one another and we deeply desire it.
2. We want to be accepted
Those same likes and comments also make us feel accepted. “I posted a picture of my face and 24 people liked it! Wow! Maybe they think I’m cool, good-looking, fun or maybe they want to date me?!” These are the types of things that go through our minds. Maybe we just want to know that someone else cares about us, that they see us or that we matter.
With social media, it’s easier than ever to idolize your favorite artists and literally watch them live their lives from your phone: one photo, video or tweet at a time. Taking selfies has become so common that it’s now uncommon if someone doesn’t. Typically, people take multiple selfies and only post the best one (some post them all). So we get inundated with the best photos of all of our friends and family, who all eagerly desire to be accepted and loved as well, and this can lead us to compare ourselves. So we try harder to take a better selfie (to get more likes and comments) and the cycle continues.
3. We want to matter
We constantly see our friends posting selfies of themselves while on vacation, hanging out with friends, doing fun activities, etc. When we see this, we subconsciously think “wow, that person has an exciting life and does all sorts of cool things…” It makes us want to post selfies showing the World that we too, happen to be cool, fun people. We want to matter. We want people to think highly of us. To be honest, we care what people think about us.
Our self-worth and purpose should come from God, not from each other. This is easier said than done. You are a child of the Most High and He made us to matter and have great purpose: To love Him and love others as ourselves (Matthew 22:36-40).
4. We want connection
The reason social media sites and apps, like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are so popular is because we are social beings who desire relationships with one another.
I’m not saying that selfies are “bad” and I’ve seen many cases where someone had a specific purpose for taking the selfie. Maybe you got a new car and you are excited to show your friends. Maybe you just won a basketball tournament and you snap a quick selfie with the caption #champions. Maybe you just graduated college and you snap a selfie in your graduation gown.
Like anything, moderation is a good thing to exercise. At the end of the day, posting selfies (or anything) on social media helps us stay connected to our friends and family and helps them stay connected to us. This is a good thing.
We all want to be loved. We all want to be accepted and we all want to matter. In a culture that is very focused on “self,” I’m not surprised that “self-ies” have become so popular. Everyone is worried about themselves, instead of focused on how to be a blessing to others. This make sense because people aren’t getting built up by others even though we constantly look for it. Selfishness is the enemy’s trap. If he can get us to only be about ourselves, he’s got us.
We need to look to God for our affirmation, for our worth. He says that we have value, that we are precious and unique. Let’s be people who put others first, who love others as ourselves. Selfies aren’t bad. They are a symptom of a deeper and greater need than what we see on the surface: Love.
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