The Selfie

There will always be one thing that stands out as a similarity between cultures, time periods and ages: that we all have a need to be liked, approved, loved; that we all judge the people around us whether we propose our liberalism or not. The opinion of others will also have some hold on one’s identity and development and if you think I’m wrong, you’re naive about the world and the way it works. Especially our modern era where everything is about harnessing your inner Kardashian or wearing the glitzy football jersey of whatever team is ‘trending’ in 2013. With the prominence of social media, the self-important selfie is but one facet of this universe. It could truly be a bit of evidence aliens could use to study the psychology of humankind. One can try and imagine what happened hundreds of years ago when a lady commissioned a painting of herself – there was no doubt some barging in to make sure the painter lightened the skin and brushed away the wrinkles. It will always be human.

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Why else would a seemingly depressed teenage girl pose for a selfie and post it online without the need for human contact? The need for a Facebook thumbs-up or comment that enhances her own self-worth? That’s what we’ve become: something that feeds off social approval or commentary. And what better way to capture yourself in a selfie? You have the ultimate control in the end: the powers of editing and lighting and the common use of a fancy quote attached. There is a multitude of techniques of course. The ever-popular duck pout. The look-away-from-the-camera-even-though-I-know-it’s-there look or the selfie that is taken in oddball places. Like the bathroom or your car. Somehow I doubt there’s a good enough filter to make a bathroom mirror appear fancier. But, its become our age. What I’ve noticed most recently is the appearance of the actual phone in the selfie. There is no shame anymore. There seems to be a norm in giving one’s social family the thrill of a new selfie with one’s glamorous iPhone at the forefront. There’s a silly little mask we give ourselves online and where we seemingly spend most of our hours of the day because it seems a little harmless compared to normal face-to-face interaction, right? Right? We’re creating a more likable self with the common-day swag poses and peace signs that we have to adapt in order to fit in. It’s a scary thing when you actually look at the selfie in that way. Social reception is paramount and we wonder why a particular status update or tweet wasn’t wholly favourited and shared. We crave it.

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I hope it does give way but there needs to that ring of online users with the needs to post their faces and when comments quickly come back with hailing approvals, there is usually a humble, ashamed bit of thanks – almost like the post itself was unintended. Whether its a moody writer face you’re going with or one to show off your new specs, the real reason you’re grabbing a selfie is to create yourself. We’ve all done it. We take a selfie, delete it, retake, delete, filter, edit, delete. It could be for your own personal entertainment or to use your phone camera as a mirror. It could also be your way to fit in. And everybody does it. Even Justin Bieber.

In the year of the selfie, you’re probably all thinking that this post is about you. Remember if you’re going to dive into the selfie, have fun. You might just stand out.

P.S: How’d I do? (Blackberry is a clear fail of society, isn’t it?)

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Hey future self…

You’re probably feeding some sort of Apple robot now and charging the Googley-Chip planted in your right ear but hopefully you have a second of your busy media conglomerate schedule to hear you from twenty years back. Anyway, I hope you can open some sort of PC-techno folder and come across this document with inferior text and out-of-date language and show the world how you dabbled in Microsoft Word and XP.

“Mom, you’re cray!” our children will say.

Is that food in pill form? Really!? Don’t you miss the grease drenched everything with a side of cholesterol? Don’t you miss the cereal that tastes like cardboard box and sawdust? Do you remember in 2012 when everyone was telling the world to embrace vegetables and campaign against the good ol’ juicy steak? Oh, you don’t eat meat anymore? You can’t braai because it’s too bad for the world? I’m glad I’m feasting in as much steak now. I’m hopefully living in a time where meat is sort of alright whilst you’re probably sipping chilled liquidized beetroot juice.

What’s for dessert?

Anyway, I’m just here to remind you what the world is like right about now; a reminder that you lived through this and somehow managed to fight off 2012’s imploding idiocy. First of all, congratulations – you didn’t buy too many skinny jeans and haven’t purchased those glasses everyone seems to be wearing even though their eyesight seems perfect. Also, you eat meat and are confused with labels that read: ‘Soya-induced gluten and low-based wheat meal’.
You seem to have ignored Bieber Fever and the recent monopoly of clean-cut boy bands. I hope music there is a little less plastic and a little more…
Its robot sounds, isn’t it?


Well, I guess you remember that it started around this time. The wuup-wuuuup-wuuuup of the social scene where boys with orange girlfriends fist-pumped their way to early unwanted pregnancy and mistaken tramp stamps. I would love to know if the ‘refinement’ of The Kardashians, the Jersey Folk and Dallas Divas and Daughters have died down? If those obese American women from the South still put glitter on two-year-olds for a plastic crown?
Perhaps the idealist pursuit of ‘Kardashian’ fame has died. Perhaps Brad and Ange have got too old for the spotlight and Suri Cruise has become as wild as Lindsay Lohan was and marketing herself on the new Hollywood scene where there are new blockbusters made for every single day of the year. Perhaps you remember those TV sets, the flat screen in the lounge?

Perhaps the fraud, the feigned ‘democracy’ that I have now, has been rectified with a sudden realization that the world can no longer shoot itself in its own foot. That our president doesn’t really need a speeding jet and high salary; that his iPad is not a necessity for a once-off national address. The petrol price is up again so I hope you guys have found some sort of solution? Fish Oil? Baby Oil? Olive Oil? They’re probably going to make us pay for the roads now, too and are planning to make the media a little bit like puppets that overlook the closet criminals with the shiny, shiny badges and important titles.

Oh, did the kids in Limpopo get their textbooks by now?

How are you feeling?
They say those inconsistent traffic robots will be outdated.
They say you won’t need to carry a driver’s license.
They say the world will be fighting for water.
They say the word ‘jungle’ will confuse a lot of people
No more tobacco
No more rhinos
A steady 2 degree climb
Planes that can fly by themselves
A trans-global railway
A possible Bionic Olympic Games?
Wearing oxygen masks to deal with the outdoors?

Anyway, despite the grime of the future and the grime of the now, I just need you to follow in the wise words of an animated fish: Just keep swimming. In the height of populist mania, media frenzy and everyone telling you what to eat, read, watch and listen to, be you. In the hype of everything in the future changing (and it will), may you remain constant and cool-headed. Let’s be happy in the fact that once upon a time, we drew pictures with crayons and ate solids.

Best wishes to you.

Be cool, bro and please tell your kids to love what they have before the world we know (and don’t) becomes a memory.

PS: Have the Chinese taken over?