Galen Guengerich: selfie culture promotes a degraded worldview

Religion and Politics

‘Selfie’ was the Oxford Dictionaries word of the year for 2013. The term is defined as “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smart phone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website”, and has been around for over a decade.

According to an article written by Galen Guengerich in the Washington Post (See: http://wapo.st/1lsAPU3 ), selfies are deeply affecting the way we live by channeling a ‘degraded worldview’ in which we are not actually pumping ourselves up, but putting ourselves down. (As discussed in class, a worldview may be defined as “a set of fundamental beliefs or values, determining or constituting a comprehensive outlook on the world”). Ironically enough, while people may share selfies to convey happy moments, artistic expression, or inner confidence, the images actually have the opposite effect on those who view them.

Geungerich specified studies from the University of Edinburgh have shown “increased sharing of selfies leads to decreased feelings of connection and closeness… your friends will stay closer if you keep your selfies to yourself.” While we may enjoy taking selfies, Guengerich argues we are sending a attention-craving message where “nothing has the lasting value but the self”. He thinks we have come to live in a world where everything is disposable, and we are ready to throw it all away as soon as we see something we consider ‘better’.

While Guengerisch’s article may outline a pessimistic worldview surrounding selfies, I beg to differ. To me, the negative stigma surrounding selfies does not make sense; since when is inner confidence construed as a negative thing?

While there is a fine line between arrogance and feeling accomplished in one’s self, selfies actually convey a positive worldview from the takers themselves very rarely do selfies present an upsetting moment or angry emotion. Considering the popularity of the term to a point where it has been awarded the Word of the Year, it seems as though everyone is taking selfies nowadays. If they feel good about their own photos, surely they do not look down on others’ selfies. I personally think showing the world “hey, I feel great today” every once and a while should be celebrated, not shut down, and logically I would assume that other selfie-takers would agree.

Ironically, there isn’t really a way to defend selfies without seeming narcissistic, but I would also like to argue that selfies with friends included in the photo are just as popular, if not more common, than selfies of individuals. If our worldview shows we are just as happy to take photos with friends than we are of just ourselves, it appears we are not as narcissistic as we may seem. Showing off our friends and how much we enjoy our time together shows that selfies are not distancing our relationships (as Guengerich argues), but perhaps bringing us closer together.

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One thought on “Galen Guengerich: selfie culture promotes a degraded worldview

  1. Good points. In my opinion, the basics are actually simpler. Our faults tend to fall into 3 buckets: pride, vanity, and over love of comfort. Selfies can often spring from vanity, putting our security in what others think of us.
    This isn’t the first article about selfies, and won’t be the last. What do selfies say about us? Guengerich seems to have captured it fairly well. Anybody who is raising a teen has undoubtedly observed their teen preening for hours to capture a variety of selfies — It’s a phenomenon worth analysis.
    It seems to me that the problem arises when people prefer taking selfies and hanging out online to spending time in person with their friends.

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