Editorial

The Era of the Selfie Stick

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Millennials, who understandably hate being called “millennials,” did not invent narcissism with the selfie.

A noticeable number of 18 to 34 year-olds have simply navigated current technology into the dank waters of self-love and/or marketing one’s self into what they hope is an attractive brand.

I’m a boomer working alongside millennials, who, in this fast-paced, fishbowl-enclosed world of news and opinion publishing and broadcasting, prove themselves more than capable of smart, hard work every day.

These individuals with whom I work are just that... individuals, not some generational coagulant undulating in rhythm with fellow red tide algae.

They do share generational life experiences that Gen X, boomers and those who follow will not.

They were there... as kids... when cell phones, laptops and tablets connected them to the world and each other.

They made the online pubescent mistakes they will hopefully teach their kids to avoid and discovered firsthand the weeping rejection wrought by false identities in this environment now called social media.

They invest in “selfie sticks” and smart phones with high resolution cameras to document their life experiences.

We now have a culture in which individuals try to define themselves by the lightly fictional autobiographies they create online. This is not new.Only the technology is omnipresent.

Too many are constantly sharing with whatever part of the world is willing to watch just how beautiful and cool they are. Even while driving... in Wyoming.

I presume you agree Las Vegas, Los Angeles and New York have their share of egotistical, narcissistic people of all ages. But... Wyoming?

The Auto Insurance Center reports the state with the smallest population boasts the largest number of drivers per capita taking selfies and posting them to Instagram.

To make matters worse, these selfies have driving-related hashtags like, “DrivingSelfie and #HopeIDontCrash.

Nevada came in second and New York is third in “Hey-look-at-me-I’m-stone-cold-awesome-posing-like-a-pouty-lip-supermodel-while-driving” selfies.

As the Narcissus myth endures since ancient Greece, there’s nothing new about narcissism; the smart phone has simply widened the opportunities and audience.

Granted, not all selfies are narcissistic.Some, maybe most, are just fun, as in, “Hey!This is me/ this is us having fun!”

But if you’re squishing up your best smooch-lipped pose wheeling the Mazda down I-90 at 80 mph, you’re a narcissist.

Self-obsession today is expressed in many ways; ways that we can recognize and extinguish if we try.

Why is it some people must drive down the lane in shopping centers, daring anyone to pull out of a parking space in front of them?

Is it really such an affront that someone, just like them at a different time of the shopping experience, has to pull out of the angled parking space with a Dodge Caravan blocking their view?

Sure, you have the right-of-way in the driving lane, so why not let everyone know that if they defy your authority and back up in front of you, there will be insurance subrogations!

These are the same self-centered people who stand directly in front of an arriving elevator, annoyed that you cannot exit before they can enter.

I, for one, do not blame Narcissus for the selfie stick.

What’s wrong with wanting a fun picture with friends or one’s self in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art?

Nothing.We’ve done this for decades, hoping the stranger who offered to take the picture doesn’t run off with our expensive Nikon or, today, iPhone.

It’s the ones so obsessed with themselves that they actually post to #HopeIDontCrash and live to dominate an event with their endless selfie orgies.

This is why the Coachella music festival ruled, “No Selfie Sticks/No Narcissists.”

There’s the fun, sharing aspect of selfies and then there’s the self-obsessed narcissistic aspect of selfies.

If you can enjoy an event... or driving... without whipping out the phone cam, you’re fine.

If you can’t help clickin’ the pic in the mirror and posting to Instagram, then maybe you are the reason that even the Sistine Chapel has to ban selfie sticks.

© Copyright 2017 Rick Jensen