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The selfie is the technological version of a person standing in their bathroom staring in the mirror. In the bathroom, you can stare at yourself as you make judgments about what you see. The selfie takes it a step further. You can show the world what you see in the mirror.
I have not figured out the redemptive, other-centered purpose of the selfie. Paul said that whatever you do should be done to glorify God (1 Corinthians 10:31). I’m sure there is a way to worship God with a selfie. I just have not solved the riddle of the God-glorifying selfie.
Paul also said we should esteem others more than ourselves, which is another obstacle for the selfie to hurdle (Philippians 2:3). Jesus pushed the “photograph” further by saying that loving God and others more than ourselves is the only way to live well in the Lord’s world (Matthew 22:36-40).
I understand showing your friends and family your pictures. I get presenting your latest couple shots to your network of friends…with moderation. To let them in on your cyber “photobook” does not have to be a bad idea.
But the selfie? I’m not talking about the occasional selfie. It’s the endless pictures of you. Maybe I’m just old, but I honestly don’t get it. The “serial selfie person” is what I’m talking about here.
It is usually considered a bad vibe to invite people over to your home to show your latest five hundred vacation shots. Years ago a family invited us over to their place. At some point, they talked about their most recent vacation trip. Within a few minutes, we all were gathered around their computer looking at every shot of their vacation from every possible angle.
This shot is us looking for seashells. This angle is us finding a seashell. Here we are picking up a seashell. This group pic is us holding up a seashell. This perspective is with our entire seashell collection. Now we’re off looking for starfish. Watch this…”
Finally, after thirty minutes of picture viewing it did dawn on the wife what was happening, and to her credit, she said, “Oh no. We have become that couple. I’m so sorry.” And with that, we all nervously laughed and stopped looking at the bottomless stack of vacation pictures.
With the expansion of the Internet and the power of Facebook, the serial selfie person can drop an endless amount of selfies into your stream of consciousness. This problem is just one more reason I spend little time in the medium…though on occasion I’ve clicked some people’s pages only to be perplexed about the point of the endless selfies.
Selfies are worse than the bathroom vanity mirror. The selfie is vanity on steroids because it’s not just the selfie person looking at herself (himself) in the mirror. The selfie person wants you to see what they see.
Five Secrets to an Awesome Selfie
This “cyber problem” is where you’ll find the hidden meaning of the selfie. The selfie is asking you a question. The photo is not a neutral, innocuous picture. It’s begging you for a response. The selfie is appealing to you to answer the question inside the selfie person’s heart. It’s a twofold question: Will you like my picture; will you love me?
If you like the picture, you like me. If you don’t like the image, maybe you don’t like me. The more likes I get, the more I am appreciated.
It’s a bold move. It’s taking the vanity mirror from the bathroom and putting it in the public domain and asks you for a “like” response.
If the selfie person is not putting their selfie in cyberspace to elicit a response, what is the purpose? What are you asking the people you’re putting your picture in front of to do? We place photos in cyberspace for a reason. Here are three options:
“He must increase, but I must decrease.” – John 3:30
John talked about being a “signpost” in the wilderness whose sole purpose was to point people to Jesus. He was clear that his ongoing goal in life was to decrease while doing all he could to increase the person and work of Jesus. Do your selfies accomplish that kind of purpose?
When people look at your Facebook page, are they drawn more to Jesus or your latest hairstyle, clothing choice, or some other thing about you? Do your pictures “increase” the person and work of Christ or do they increase you?
Does your Facebook activity feed your desires to be approved, accepted, significant, or loved?
Rick Thomas leads a training network for Christians to assist them in becoming more effective soul care providers. RickThomas.Net reaches people around the world through consulting, training, podcasting, writing, counseling, and speaking.
In 1990 he earned a BA in Theology, and in 1991 he received a BS in Education. In 1993 he was ordained into Christian ministry, and in 2000 he graduated with an MA in Counseling from The Master’s University in Santa Clarita, CA. In 2006 he was recognized as a Fellow of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).