What I Wore

What I Wore Sunday, December 8, 2013 — and a Note on Selfies

What I Wore Sunday, December 8, 2013

The backlash against “selfies,” once called self-portraits back in the day, makes me sad. Instead of seeing people — not just women, mind you — celebrating everything from the everyday mundane — a good hair day — to the hard-earned accomplishment — a marathon finish — we point fingers and tell them they’re wrong. Wrong for celebrating the little things, the big things. Wrong for making this face or that. Wrong for focusing on self. Wrong, wrong, wrong. The Internet remains very good at telling people they’re doing it wrong, but struggles to do what is right in and of itself.

Beyond that, the baseless attempt of calling all selfies a “cry for help” gave me pause.

Because… what if a selfie is a cry for help?

If someone came up to you, in person, and asked for help, would you turn them away? Would you mutter and snicker about their “cry for help” and point out how weak they are? What if they didn’t use verbal forms of communication to let you know that they needed help? Would you roll your eyes and walk away? What if someone you loved dearly walked into your home and looked unlike themselves, despondent and beyond sad? Would you ignore it?

Meditation Necklace

What if the girl who just posted a selfie of a good hair day is looking for just one good thing in her otherwise bad week, month, or life? What if the teenage boy who just shared a picture of himself playing the guitar just wants someone to ask him one thing — anything — about the feelings behind the chords? What if the mom who posts a picture of her toned body after delivery just wants one person to acknowledge that she’s still a human being, not just an incubator? What if the athlete just wants someone to say, “Good job,” instead of, “No one cares about your run.” (Note: I care.) What if that sad, puppy dog face that looks fake isn’t fake and the person behind the big, sad eyes needs someone — another human being — to care?

What if the smile on her face is plastered there? What if she’s trying to make everyone think everything is okay? What if she wouldn’t know what to say if you asked her if she was okay? What if it’s the hardest week of her year and she’s just trying to make it through without doing something stupid?

And instead of simply liking the photo or, you know, scrolling on by, you write a whiny comment or a vaguetweet or a Facebook post or a lengthy, self-righteous blog post about how you’re so sick and tired of selfies. Instead of reaching out, you push her away. Instead of offering a shoulder, you kick him while he’s down. Instead of involving yourself in that person’s life — really connecting via social media — you continue to perpetuate the false belief that online friendships aren’t real, that they don’t matter to those involved, that they can be tossed easily aside without feelings or repercussions.

You, then, are the source of the problem, not the selfie, cry for help or celebration or narcissism or everyday mundane nothingness or anything in between. You. Because if you see affirming other human beings that someone cares as a bad thing, you need someone to come into your life and offer you some affirmation that life isn’t as bad as you think it is.

I’m not claiming that every selfie is a cry for help. I don’t see the world that easily. I see the humans who post selfies as complex individuals that choose to share bits and pieces of their lives for any number of reasons. To connect, to reach out, to have a face to face moment in a faceless world, to breathe bits of life into an anonymous world, to celebrate, to cry out, to be real.

I Like Your Selfies

I want to see your selfies, when you need a pat on the back or a hug or a kick in the pants. I want to celebrate with you, I want to cry with you. I want you to know that even when you think that no one cares, someone does. Especially then.

3 replies on “What I Wore Sunday, December 8, 2013 — and a Note on Selfies”

This really resonates with me tonight.
Last week the girl friend of my daighter’s birth father committed suicide. She was only 21. I didn’t know her, but have felt the loss deeply. That this young girl felt desperate, empty and alone enough to think this was her only option is tragic. That thousands of people feel that way with no where to turn is unbearable. If a selfie is a means to reach out and feel a commection to others or can boost someone’s mood enough to get them through another day we should be grateful, not judge.

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