I don’t know whether to be horrified, impressed or amused by the recent craze of taking selfies at every opportunity. I have to say I’m not a fan myself. I avoid all close up shots wherever possible. Every line, freckle and blemish is seemingly magnified when the camera turns on me. But I seem to be alone in my rejection of the current trend. Maybe it’s an age thing. Everywhere you go, whether it’s a shopping trip, a match, a walk down the street, a supermarket dash, it has to be documented by a photo. Behold the selfie, that bold and wonderful homage to narcissism.
But the funny thing is that it’s not just teenagers taking shots of themselves at various times throughout the day. It would seem that at moments of stress and extreme danger where a condemned man used to reach for a cigarette, now he reaches for his phone. It has become a vital companion even during dire emergencies when our lives are at stake. Hikers have climbed up mountains without water, protective gear, sun lotion and proper footwear. But it’s all ok because they could take a selfie of themselves in trouble. Skiers and snowboarders braving the off piste areas may not be safely attired in helmets and goggles but they have the phones and the cameras to record their tumble down the hill.
As if these moments weren’t odd enough there is now a phenomenon known as the Selfie Olympics. I kid you not. Bearing the title “Olympics” you would be forgiven for assuming that these are a collection of photographs taken to celebrate some athletic and sporting prowess. Not even close. This new and somewhat disturbing trend has emerged from Twitter where the Twitterati are encouraged to go to absolute extremes to take photos of themselves in various guises. A little athleticism is actually involved although not an absolute requirement. Creativity and originality is encouraged and rewarded which can have unfortunate consequences. Age is not an issue, nor is it a detractor. Age is supposed to herald the arrival of some common sense. These photos would suggest however, that the last thing about sense is its commonality. Apparently Selfie Olympics involve a great deal of action in the bathroom. By this I mean cramming as many random things as possible into the bathroom then getting into an awkward and physically demanding position in front of the mirror before snapping a picture. Bizarre.
But, to be fair, this practice is probably a little safer than those odd people who chose to take selfies on train tracks, at the top of bridges, on stormy beaches and in wildlife parks. Why would you ever turn your back on a bear to take a photo? The mind boggles. It makes the random taking of selfies in the street seem positively tame and unexciting.
Another odd phenomenon I find my phone obsessed teenagers dabbling in is the rather odd ability to carry out a face swap on the much maligned Snapchat app. So when they get fed up taking pics of themselves inside, outside, standing on their head and pulling faces they can see how they would look with a totally new face. Actually this one I could probably cope with. Swapping my face for a younger, smoother, fresher look is quite an exciting thought actually. But I did realise it’s all very lighthearted when one of the teenagers posted a photo on line of themselves doing a face swap with an Easter Egg box. Now I wonder would that qualify for the Selfie Olympics as it’s certainly not your average narcissistic shot. I shudder to think how life would be if our technophile teens couldn’t document the amazing, the frightening and the downright absurd. Imagine having to rely on memories alone. Perish the thought.