My attention was drawn to one of the more light-hearted items on a recent edition of Newnight. (For Canadians and others not resident in the UK, Newsnight is a daily BBC current affairs analysis programme). The piece concerned what was purported to have been the ‘must have’ gift of the Christmas season not long passed.
This oh-so desirable object – that which apparently appeared at the top of so many yuletide wish-lists – was… (wait for it…) – a stick!
To be precise – the ‘selfie stick’!
You might at this point suspect that you detect in my tone a hint of sarcasm. You would be right so to do.
OK – I am an old fart – but I just don’t get the whole notion of the ‘selfie’. It seems to have grown out of the seemingly instatiable desire with which some are afflicted, to record the fact of their presence wherever they may be on the planet. A few decades back the advent of the lightweight digital camera provided tourists and others with the ideal means of so doing, to the immense chagrin of the rest of us who actually prefer to interact with, or gaze in contemplation upon, the exciting new places that we are visiting. Travelling to the far corners of the globe to take picture of ourselves – rather than of those distant exotic locales – seems to me beyond the absurd.
I recall one visit to the Louvre some years back that was all but ruined for me by a hoard of tourists from another part of the globe. I wished only to stand in awe, drinking in the sensuous detail of the copy of the statue of the Three Graces. I was prevented from so doing by the endless procession of snap-happy subjects eager to have recorded their very presence in front of said marble icon – but facing away from it. I gave up and left.
The selfie itself (fnar!) was, of course, made possible by two further inventions – the camera equipped mobile phone and the means to upload the output thereof to the InterWebNet. By use of these tools the self(ie)-obsessed can not only record but also publish the fact of their presence anywhere upon the planet – at any point – within seconds!
The basic question, however, remains unanswered… Why?
For those who have not yet encountered this bizarely popular object, the ‘selfie stick’ is a pretty crude tool that allows one to hold one’s mobile phone at somewhat more than arms-length whilst snapping away. Presumably the intention is to enable one to include even more gurning idiots in the resultant snap than could otherwise be captured!
What bemuses me more than anything, though, is that most of the images that one sees thus presented are – to be quite frank – pretty poor! If I wanted to display simulacra of myself upon the InterWebNet (and I don’t – I really don’t!) – I would want them to be as flattering as they could be. Heck! – I’d hire a professional portrait photographer to make sure that I looked as good as is humanly possible!
But then – as I said – I clearly don’t get it…