Our Selfie Society & The Season of Giving

“The great danger for family life, in the midst of any society whose idols are pleasure, comfort, and independence, lies in the fact that people close their hearts and become selfish.” ~ Pope John Paul II


Selfie.  It’s kind of a funny word, isn’t it?  It’s fascinating how this has become such a phenomenon.  We take pictures of ourselves doing just about everything.  Eating breakfast.  Going for a run.  Driving in the car.  Posing with friends.  Riding a bike.  Attending a class.  Watching a movie.  Just smiling.  Take a quick scroll through your newsfeed, and you’ll see what I mean.  Sometimes we spend more time getting the right photo than we do living in and enjoying the moment.  And now we have selfie sticks to help us take better photos of ourselves.  And then we must post these on social media to let all of our friends know just how amazing our lives are.

Okay, I’m not at all trying to take the fun out of selfies.  I take just as many as the next person.  My friends, family, and I take plenty on vacations.  And it’s nice to share our lives with people who care about us and vice versa.  It’s not all bad.

It’s just funny to me when I stop to think about this cultural trend.  Well, funny in most circumstances.  Apparently, more people have died this year from selfie-related incidents than from shark attacks.  

That’s what happens, though, isn’t it?  It’s easy to become so self-absorbed that we forget about potential harm to ourselves and to others.  Our needs, our wants, our entitlements.  Like many other things, I think the selfie phenomenon provides a snapshot of larger societal issues worth considering.

We’re so zoomed in on ourselves that our vision is blurred.

That’s certainly what our culture encourages today.  According to mainstream outlets, life is all about us and our own happiness.  Anything that prevents us from just “following our hearts” is painted as unjust and harmful.

The modern feminist movement is the first example that comes to mind.  We’re told that women should be able to have everything we want out of life and all at once.  We’re somehow “entitled” to it.  We’re told that we shouldn’t have to be inconvenienced by an unplanned child if it would disrupt our dreams.  Relationships are encouraged to consist of two independent people living separate lives instead of compromise and loving self-sacrifice. If women choose to put their families or husbands’ needs first, there’s a sense of indignation from others.  The mainstream culture gives little thought to the implications of this self-empowered approach.

This is just one cultural illustration, but there are many.  Of course, as with anything else, there always needs to be a bit of balance.  Overall, however, I think we need to change our societal lens and view things a bit differently.  Most of the time, it’s really not all about us, and shouldn’t be – and, ultimately, that’s a beautiful thing.

As we begin this Season of Giving, what if we pushed that little camera button on the iPhone of life so the view is facing outward?  Can you imagine if we all spent the next six weeks really putting others in the best light?  What if we refocused our time, energy, and thoughts less on our wants and more on others’ needs?  Now that would be a picture worth posting.

During this Holiday Season, what’s one thing (big or small) you could do to serve others?


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