We humans are rather curious creatures, I’ll admit. So many sides to our nature, so many colours to our emotions, so many journeys of our imaginations. But the question must arise, do we learn any more about these traits by making ourselves the perpetual object of our own fascination?
One would certainly assume so based upon the cult of the ‘selfie’ which rages around the world at this particular juncture of human evolution. I am tempted to say ‘devolution’, but going backwards would at least stand the chance of putting us in touch with something tangible, earthy even – whereas to live life as a virtual reality experience with one’s own photographic image as the central point of attraction – fails to provoke my sense of admiration for the human race.
The cult of the selfie has gone so far that reports are now emerging that addicts often put themselves in positions of real danger in order to get the perfect shot. A number have already died as a result of the dare-devil approach to getting the perfect selfie.
If I was to take a relaxed and laid-back view of all this, I might say “OK, sure, we all need to get our kicks in some form or other, just let it be – let people have fun with their cameras on poles; apart from the excesses we hear about it’s pretty harmless fun isn’t it?”
It would be simple enough to go along with such a prognosis were it not for the fact that the whole thing is surely telling us something more than just what the crazy craze of the moment is. It is telling us something quite profound about an advanced preoccupation with superficiality per se.
A kind of ego flattering sport whose popularity has presently reached the point of pandemic.
Is this just a kick-back against a sense of loneliness and sense of insignificance in a world that appears indifferent to the fate of the individual? Is it a wish to be noticed in an age of hyper inflated promotion of the engineered stars of stage, screen, video, social media et al? A range of elevated self importance that runs from TV chef to porn star to political poser?
Whatever the cause, its ubiquitous nature is undeniable and has added yet more techno baggage to the 21st century tourist’s arsenal of seemingly indispensable smart gismos. If one isn’t squinting into the illuminated screen of a smart phone while walking through a beautiful landscape, one is posing against the same background smiling cheesily for a selfie. While a discourse with nature herself, the source of all our deepest and most practical needs, is shunned. Left out of the picture, except to the extent that she forms the backdrop to the vanity inflated self.
Here lies a clue to this infliction. Modern day living has contrived to be a virtual reality form of existence, one which has alienated human beings from their roots. The ability to find a deep appreciation for beauty, quiet and the actual power of landscape has been smothered by an electro-smog of self satisfying surface pursuits; the sum total of which have formed a veritable barrier against true instincts, perceptions and genuinely life satisfying experiences.
This is a dangerous state of affairs, because we need these qualities to be at the forefront of our daily lives in order to gain/regain a true sense of equilibrium and balance. To find in ourselves that which gives us the courage and vision we need to negotiate and ultimately to vanquish the miasma of deceptions, twisted truths and outright lies legion at this time.