04 May 2014

Selfies at graduation? What happened to living in a society?

A few days after my critique on selfies, one of our seminarians wrote to tell me he wrote a paper on "dealing with alienation in the modern world" and used my comments "to talk about alienation today." I'm grateful for the inclusion and a bit surprised by it; my blog has been referenced in papers before, but not for a topic like this.

He also sent along a link to an article at Everyday Feminism titled, "Selfies and Misogyny: The Importance of Selfies as Self-Love." The title alone clearly demonstrates my claim that "the selfie indicates, in a way perhaps more clearly than any other, the great ego-centrism of our own day."

Yesterday morning I read with interest that both the University of South Florida and Bryant University have asked their graduates not to take selfies as they shake hands and receive their diplomas (that such a request even has to be made is baffling).

One of the graduates from the University of South Florida is quoted in the article:
"I didn't think it was that big of a deal," she said as she posed on campus in her cap and gown for some early graduation pictures. "But I don't want to be disrespectful."
Give that statement some thought. The fact that didn't think taking a selfie on stage in a ceremony that is intended to be marked with some dignity shows how little respect she - and others like her - has for those around her. That her taking a selfie might inconvenience others or take away from the ceremony never occurred to her. There are, after all, official photographers and family and friends with cameras in attendance to capture a better record of the moment than a selfie could ever hope to do.

To be sure, I am not criticizing her as a person (her desire to be respectful is commendable), but rather the utter thoughtlessness with which so many in her generation - and the generation ahead of her and, regrettably, behind - live their lives. In effect, life is about me and those around me aren't all that important.

It is high time we remembered that we live in a society and that other people exist around me and matter. It is time to consider what effect our actions will have others and simply the effect they have on ourselves.

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