Why The Selfie Will Give You No Joy

I was out with a friend a few days ago and this person was really insistent on taking pictures. I asked her why she takes these pictures of what she is doing, what she is eating, wearing etc.

She wanted to take a picture with me. To remember our time together. I kept refusing her. She wondered why, and I was not able to articulate a good enough answer for her. Her reason for taking these pictures was to “share my life with my friends.” Perhaps I seemed anti-social, or perhaps I seemed over-protective. The reason why I refused is none of the above.

The reason is this: I did not want our meeting to lose its meaning.At a profound level, if you capture everything you do, then nothing remains of value. I see people describe their lunches with the same language as they would describe the birth of their newborn. I see a real poignant moment with someone special shared in the same breath as a weekend of watching TV.

Pictures and photos had worth to them before the invent of digital cameras. A moment had to be special to be captured. There was meaning attached to it. But now, we capture everything. But how often do we revisit them? And if we do, how often do those pictures evoke the same sentiments? And even if they do, how long before we just swipe sideways to move on quickly to another moment of complete banality?

We’re losing our ability to reminisce. To remember and ponder our own lives. We captured everything on our phones, but forgot to capture it in our minds and hearts. We write beautiful captions to complement our photos (with the appropriate number of hashtags for more likes and more followers), but what meaning do those words carry when they are written for an audience of many instead of an audience of self?


Look at the image above. How many people do you think were “in the moment”? Can you really be involved with what’s happening if you’re seeing it through your phone screen? We are so obsessed with sharing our lives, that we perhaps forget to share these moments with own selves.

We forget that we create our own meaning with our own moments. We do not need the validation of others to bestow us with the acceptance of what we are feeling.

Let’s put own phones down. Let’s quit our instagrams and snapchats for a few days or weeks. Let’s give meaning to our lives again.After all, only real meaning can give us joy.

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