You can divide humanity in increasingly diverse ways. The ancient pluralities reflected a rigidly-conceived world of oversimplified dichotomies: Yes v No; White v Black; Evil v Good; Female v Male; Religious v Irreligious; Rich v Poor; Power v Powerless; Baron v Serf; Conservative v Progressive.
I’m sure you get the idea.
Now there are no such certainties. Instead of polar opposites, everything is between. Shades of grey. We’re uncertain about absolutely everything, and this makes us nervous. Nervous people act irrationally, especially when the slip into terror is so close. Some only have to see a well-groomed Black guy birdwatching in the park and they’re screaming for the cops. Such is the treacherous quicksand of modern life.
Well, let me give you a solid rock to stand on. After years of exhaustive research, I have discovered the only stable Archimedean point left to us in 2021.
Those who take selfies v those who don’t.
I’d be wasting digital ink if I regurgitated all my findings, so let me summarise it thus: selfie-taking is symptomatic of a person with low self-esteem, who are insecure, selfish, vain, immature, needy, inattentive, impulsive and lonely. Yes, the last surprised me too. Many people who take selfies are lonely. They want to be noticed. They ache to be complimented. And they’re not getting it (or not getting enough) in their real lives.
On the flip-side of the coin are those who don’t take selfies. The data is out there if you want to check, but typical non-selfie takers are the antonyms — selfless, modest, mature, self-reliant, attentive, pragmatic, and not lonely. Take this a step further (another post maybe) and it segues neatly with my long-held suspicion that extroverts are responsible for 90% of all selfies.
It just makes sense.
We already know that extroversion and introversion are balanced by ambiversion, which probably accounts for most folk. But there’s no middle-ground when it comes to selfies. You either do, or you don’t. The coin never lands on its edge. You either take pictures of yourself , or avoid pictures altogether.
The full-stop for most researchers is the conclusion that self-affirmation is the raison d’etre behind selfies. Why? Because too many dads call their 3-year olds “Princess”, maybe. Too many moms enrol their daughters in acting/singing/dancing/beauty pageant-esque activities. Boys too. Too much emphasis on preteen beauty spawned a generation of shallow adults.
Knowing all this, my thoughts turn to what’s next. We’re already seeing selfies as a business tool, selfies as social commentary, selfies as artistic expression, as documentary, art, a means of fomenting rebellion, humour, self-deprecation, as the burbling font of inchoate ideas and untamed/untapped creativity. It’s not all bad!
In fact, there’s really only one reason to be on social media, and that’s to lurk amid the selfies. There’s a scientific precept which provides that something is the sum of all the things its not, so if you’re unsure about a person, lurk on their social media awhile and analyse. Start with celebs who want to get paid for appearing in your selfie. $1081 for Sylvester Stallone; $828 for Mel Gibson; $267 for Caitlyn Jenner, it goes on. They might not be your favourite for long.
While celebs may be the vanguard of the selfieverse, and it pays to lurk closely, don’t think they’re it. Selfies will creep into everything, especially when facial recognition becomes a legit mode of identification. Need to unlock your frozen WordPress account? Selfie. Need to replace your lost credit card? Selfie. How about a dinner reservation? Selfie. We’ll all have prehensile thumbs before long, because this ain’t going away.
But in the interim, until the dust settles on the next iteration, I’m guessing peeps will continue being peeps. More butt selfies, more moments-before-I-died selfies. Bloggers who can’t blog without another pic of themselves under an inch of makeup will continue. I’ll continue to blog anonymously, keeping the assassins at bay (just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you).
But life’s not all bad. There will always be Ricky Gervaises out there to keep it real.