By Guest Blogger N.C.E
Entering the new year of 2014, one inadvertently looks back to the past year to reminisce the significant events that unfolded. Arguably one of the most noteworthy is the crowning of the title ‘Word of the Year’ for ‘selfie’. Even the title seems like an understatement of the underlying social phenomenon that took place.
The debate is still on and the jury is still out whether it was the invention of social networks and the subsequent proliferation of selfies that elevates narcissism or was the portals merely an avenue for people to act out on their narcissistic tendencies. It’s the classic chicken or egg dilemma again.
But one thing is sure – the availability of front-facing cameras on smartphones and seamless access to social networks, have been a potent mix for the human nature to rear its ‘beauty’ head. Regardless of the dilemma, any chronic urge for selfie-posting definitely smacks of some degree of self-obsession. An article I came across earlier showed absolute positive correlation between the two. (http://www.siliconrepublic.com/new-media/item/35055-selfie-syndrome-how-socia)
Nevertheless, to read about people resorting to selfie-posting, and then stalking the number of likes received to find their self-worth is just sad. At this point, I suspect some may argue that since I don’t partake, or even have the qualities to do so, I’m not even qualified to comment. Admittedly, if I’m more of a tall, dark and handsome hunk rather than a hobbit of complete opposite characteristics, I might have stronger tendencies to occasionally (or even frequently) snap and share a selfie.
But then again, vanity is just that – it’s a hollow obsession. Besides, there’s no absolute measure for it. Ask some people around you who they think is the most beautiful person to have graced the surface of Earth and chances are you’d get quite different answers. But ask them about the smartest person and I’m pretty sure the answers are not as varied.
Some might even argue that all this talk is narcissism after all, the kind of holier-than-thou attitude. Granted, if a discourse about human behaviour is considered narcissistic, then it may well be a kind of positive self-obsession. Civilizations flourished when the people actively debate ideas, not during the time when our cavemen ancestors were competing to be alpha males. Somewhere along the timeline of our existence, we must have crossed the line, securing our position as the dominant species on this planet.
Furthermore, there’s no everlasting beauty. Everyone ages and our imperfections get magnified. But a beautiful idea… that’s a whole different animal there. It can be passed on to generations, it can be refined, enhanced, assimilated… Heck! We wouldn’t even be talking about this topic if not for Einstein’s idea of relativity. It was this idea that flourished into concepts which made semiconductor devices possible, and voila, you get smartphones and the Internet.
In the few tens of years down the road, during the unavoidable final farewell, I would like for people, especially my children, to talk about my ideas and the mind-opening discussions we have had during my lifetime. It’s an unquestionable preference over something like “Oh, he was quite a looker, back in his younger days.”