|Blurry selfie, 2010.|
Selfies are everywhere now, of course, especially across social media, and when they first exploded as a phenomenon I was very tempted to state, in full-on Old Fart Mode*, that selfies were another sign of the shallow self-obsession of modern youth (you kids today! myeh! back in my day we had to use Polaroids and we liked it that way, we liked it FINE!). Fortunately I managed to hold my tongue for once, and spent a little more time looking at selfies online and what people were actually doing with them before making a snap judgement. And while some images really do project little more than vanity and shallowness -- sorry, but I calls 'em like I sees 'em -- others, MANY others, reflect an interesting visual aesthetic and a way of sharing how a particular individual experiences the world. Selfies can be as unique as their subjects -- funny, curious, mysterious, tragic, bold, goofy, astonishing -- it largely depends on how any particular individual chooses to wield a camera. And while I do think it's important to live in the moment rather than obsessively documenting it, selfies can also be a powerful tool for creative visual thinkers to create a narrative or a conversation about their lives.
I also realized somewhere along the line that I shouldn't complain too obstreperously about selfies, because I'm taking one right now. This blog is, in many ways, my selfie -- it reflects my ainsel (an old folk term meaning "my own self"), not necessarily the way I look on the outside, but what's knocking around in the back of my noggin. I may not ever get comfortable with cameras, but words? Especially written words? They're my element, and I'm as free using a pen or a keyboard as others are with a smartphone and a selfie stick. And if I expect other people to be OK with my particular choice of medium, I need to be willing to return the favor. In the end, the medium isn't nearly as important as the message.
*46 is well into Old Fart territory, ne?