|"World's first selfie": RETRONAUT|
(No, I don't really call her that. Who am I, Torvald Helmer?)
Anyway: the "selfie." I just can't help it. No matter how ubiquitous it is now, I can't help but think it an absurd practice. Perhaps it is another step to my not-so-slow alienation from a world in which I am not-so-slowly becoming an elder.
Sure, I get the reason for its birth: social media; the need to represent one's self pictorially in "profiles." (And, the picture does serve the practical purpose of helping people to identify the person whose profile they are looking at.) But I, personally, am locked-in: never did one, never will. (Though I have been squeezed into those of others and I have even "photobombed" a few. [By the way, I do thoroughly approve of "photobombing"].) The selfie feels weird to me and it always looks weird.
Logistically, regarding the need for profile pics, I am in a good position, I suppose. As a musician, I do get "tagged" in a lot of pictures people take when the band plays, so I sometimes use them. (Which also feels weird to me, anyway: "Hey! Look at me! I'm a rock star!) Still, at least I'm not constantly bringing the world to within arm's length of me.
My wife? As I said, she takes them for Facebook. And she always does nice ones; no duck lips; no direct-south shots into the neckline; no direct-north chin-elimination snaps. Why should she bow down to my discomfort with the social phenomenon?
As we all know, selfies are a manifestation of image-making. Which must be okay to do; which has always been done, I am forced to say. When I put up a picture of myself behind the drums, I am doing it, to some extent, even if I didn't take the picture. Why don't we, after all, put up pictures of total reality? -- or ourselves caught on film, digging in a nostril for obstructions? Right: it's bad for our image.
For years, even before digital photography, we have all chosen to shred or simply not to show pictures in which we look fat or goofy. The only difference is, now, we can sit for hours creating deceptive shots of the way we want to look.
The only thing that "gets" me is that, when I see a selfie of my wife, I think: She looks nice...but not quite like herself.
Maybe that is all good, though. I remember, only a few years into our marriage, she and I were standing in the bathroom brushing our teeth before bed. I looked at her and she looked at me and we both looked silly and absurd. We spit. We rinsed. "That," I said, "Is what marriage is all about." We both laughed.
Reality is cool. Maybe things like selfies make our world more private than we think, in the end, by holding back something of who we really are. Maybe we all need a little time on stage, but, we all still have (and need) a private world, no matter how voluntarily Orwellian things get.
I leave you with Sting: