Thought the 'Me' generation was bad? Selfies signal that it's getting worse

It’s official, everyone: It’s all about you.

Oxford Dictionaries, arguably the most prestigious arbiter of the English language, recently unveiled its word of the year – the word “selfie.”

Here’s Oxford’s justification: “Language research conducted by Oxford Dictionaries editors reveals that the frequency of the word ‘selfie’ in the English language has increased by 17,000 percent since this time last year.”

FIRST OF ALL, thank heaven for small favors. “Twerk” almost became the word of the year.

If you don’t know what a selfie is, you’ve probably never taken one. It’s a photograph you snap of yourself, then typically upload to a social media website. The first photo to be designated a selfie by the photographer was posted on Sept. 13, 2002, on an Australian message board. The photo was taken to show a young man’s busted lip from a partying mishap the night before.

I wouldn’t even count it as the first selfie. In 1839 a photography pioneer named Robert Cornelius posed in front of a camera for about a minute, in the back of his father’s lamp business in Philadelphia. That picture is the first successfully rendered photographic portrait of a human being.

And painters have been rendering their own versions of “selfies” for centuries, at least as far back as the Renaissance.

Which proves that people have been self-absorbed possibly for as long as there have been people.

But I suppose we should have seen this coming back in 2006. Remember whom Time magazine chose as its Person of the Year? You. No, really. Look it up. The winner was “You” – the designation Time chose to describe the millions of folks who anonymously contribute user-generated content to the Internet.

THE INTERNET makes it all about you.

And that may not be a good thing.

Selfishness already is a huge problem in this country, and the Internet makes it worse.

Stanford University psychiatry professor Elias Aboujaoude has posited that we can tailor our Internet experiences in such detail that it’s making us more self-centered. It’s part of what psychologists Jean M. Twenge and W. Keith Campbell call “the narcissism epidemic,” which also is the title of their 2009 book.

We’re too often embracing a sense of self when we should be reaching out to other people. In real life, not in cyberspace.

You want to know who some of the real heroes are walking among us today? It’s the folks who put other folks first.

There’s a wonderful phenomenon that’s cropped up nationwide in the past few years – “paying it forward,” named for the popular movie that was made from a popular book. Some customers at fast-food restaurants and similar establishments have started paying for the meal of the person behind them in line.

AT A CHICK-FIL-A in Houston, 67 consecutive drive-through customers paid for the subsequent driver’s meal. A coffee shop in Winnipeg reported 228 drivers in a row doing the same thing. Similar accounts have been reported at fast-food joints from coast to coast.

That’s just one simple way to reconnect with your fellow human beings. There are countless other ways. And they don’t even require that you surf the Web.

It shouldn’t be all about you.

Much more often, it should be about us.

Comments (7) Add comment
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mrenee2003
2946
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mrenee2003 11/24/13 - 12:09 pm
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0
Excellent article

I recently saw a website that collected selfies of people at their relatives' funerals (in attempt to demonstrate the levels of absurdity that people go to when posting selfies). This Thanksgiving, it would be great if people would make a commitment to do an act of kindness for someone. Even better, do the act and not broadcast it for fame. Do it for the pure joy of extending a kindness.

Darby
29249
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Darby 11/24/13 - 12:59 pm
3
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Dumb!

No other way to describe it!

I don't do selfies. I'm just so good looking, that I'm not sure the world could handle it.

Riverman1
93649
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Riverman1 11/24/13 - 07:07 pm
4
2
Hogwash

“THE INTERNET makes it all about you."

"Selfishness already is a huge problem in this country, and the Internet makes it worse."

"We’re too often embracing a sense of self when we should be reaching out to other people. In real life, not in cyberspace.”

Hogwash, hogwash and hogwash. That’s like saying don’t read and write, only speak in person. Don’t use a cell phone. The Internet is a tool, not the Boogie Man.

And what about THIS nonsense: "Stanford University psychiatry professor Elias Aboujaoude has posited that we can tailor our Internet experiences in such detail that it’s making us more self-centered. It’s part of what psychologists Jean M. Twenge and W. Keith Campbell call “the narcissism epidemic,” which also is the title of their 2009 book."

The fact is we tailor our reading, the people we communicate with and the subjects we discuss and study to our personal interests whether it is on the Internet or not. That's more about common sense than narcissism.

specsta
7137
Points
specsta 11/24/13 - 09:26 pm
3
2
Nothing Selfish About Self-Portraits

Headline from The Puritan Times, circa 1972 :

"Polaroid SX-70 Cameras Are A Recipe For Disaster"

"With the advent of the new Polaroid SX-70 instant film camera, legions of self-centered youth with now be able to take photos and see the photograph immediately, without having to wait days for the lab to process the photo. This creates immediate gratification without the necessary discipline. We observe this technology with great trepidation; scores of school kids and college kids will take all sorts of selfish pictures, pass them around, and destroy our concept of community."

Hmmmm...

Yes, it's a fake paper and fake headline - but what's the difference, in regards to this column? How about looking at "selfies" as just another way for folks to express themselves? It's not a bad thing. The world will not end and narcissism will not reign.

The whole concept has evolved much farther than the writer realizes - there is a whole community of folks who post the ultimate "selfie", Go-Pro videos on sites like Vimeo, where individual adventures are captured in HD motion and color.

This article is just old and clueless.

Echoes86
911
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Echoes86 11/25/13 - 10:15 am
1
3
Writer

I'm fairly positive that this article was written by someone who's over 50 years of age.

Darby
29249
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Darby 11/25/13 - 12:08 pm
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1
"Yes, it's a fake paper and fake headline" -

And the fact that it was, was SO apparent that I wasn't even tempted to Google "Puritan Times".

Darby
29249
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Darby 11/28/13 - 11:50 am
3
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This just in...

The White House has issued a last minute reprieve for American Families...

OzBama the Great and Powerful has announced that...

IF YOU LIKE YOUR TURKEY, YOU CAN EAT IT!

PERIOD!

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