Thursday, December 10, 2015

The selfie

I cannot understand the seduction of the selfie, and the other day I was appalled as I watched the news story about Leonardo's Mona Lisa.  On the television they showed crowds taking photos of themselves in front of the famous painting. 
In pondering the whole phenomenon I was reminded of Robert Burns' poem To a Louse and its lines, oft quoted - and I roughly 'translate':

Oh would some power have the gift to give us
To see ourselves as others see us

Would it really, as he goes on in the poem, free us from many a blunder in self regard?  I fear the opposite seems to be true.  My thinking led me to the doodle at the top.


  1. Well, I just lost my irate comment - something about how the evil cell phone and people's abuse of a feature to capture and immediately send to social media their likeness in the "Look at me!" mania that has taken over the internet...blah blah blah.

    Yes - what you said. And I rather like your doodle - even if it DOES have a cell phone in it. :-)

  2. Sheila, I remember early in the new century, when the Tate Modern Gallery in London had just opened, I saw some Japanese teenagers taking photos of each other in front of the art in an exhibition and sending them immediately to their friends in Japan. I was amazed and amused. Like you, however, the smile has frozen on my face as these facilities have exposed the vacuous aspects of human behaviour, not to mention the more insidiously dangerous ones. But maybe I am just a grumpy old hippy, as those traits were there all along. There simply was not the technology to exploit and increase them.

    I'm glad you like the doodle - the rectangle need not be a phone or ipad, it could be a mirror.

  3. Yup, I think that thought about the behavior not necessarily being new but the ease with which technology coupled with social media has made sharing these moments is. And maybe they get an unjustified bad rap, but truly, the Japanese seem to always have been the worst regarding vacation picture taking of themselves in front of touristy things. The photo proof is the thing, not the seeing in real time. Those selfie sticks, btw, are definitely the worst. A friend who is nearing 70 was going to take one on her trip to Turkey but her husband and 28 year old daughter forbade it!

  4. On our recent trip, the selfie preoccupation was seriously tedious. Almost as annoying were the pairs of people who take it in turn to photograph one another. They occupy twice as much space in front of the view - one posing repeatedly and the other photographing and both blocking the view for those who just want to look and relish. In fact maybe they are worse. I'm hoping it's just a fad that will pass ...!

  5. Margaret, I must admit that I no longer enjoy visiting famous sights/sites. But I was spoilt in my youth being able to see great wonders with hardly any other folks there.