Saturday, July 17, 2010

I'm Ready for My Close Up, Mr. Me

So is this what we've come to? For sale: a specialized piece of equipment that allows you to photograph your favorite subject - yourself! Well, maybe that is not the only application for the handheld monopod, but it does highlight a universal, human problem: the love of self.

With social media dominating the internet landscape, the love of self is more visible than ever. Facebook takes it to new heights. Where else can you see a series of 20 photos, all taken one right after another of one person? They are friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, acquaintances, and the daughter of your sister's boss's secretary. The poses are pretty standard. Camera held aloft, keep your chin down, and point your eyes up to the camera. Or, for those going steady, it is a photo of one kissing his/her sweetie. It's known as the "I've gotta boyfriend/girlfriend photo." Or, maybe its the group photo with friends, otherwise known as the I'm-not-a-social-reject photo. Or it's the funny photo, showing your sense of humor or creative ability. Or, perhaps it's just a photo of your closest friend - your Chihuahua. How sad.

No matter what photo you go with, Facebook exemplifies for our generation the love of self and the need to spread that love to others. While it may be used to stay in contact with others and keep up with friends and family, when it comes to what you put out to your public, it is often calculated, whether consciously or not, with the question of how will this promote self. Think about it. Why would a person sit in front of their computer either alone or with a friend, take a series of photos of themselves making various facial poses and post it for all their friends to see? The only reason is so show everyone themselves.

Why does anyone want to publicize the fact that they are Disneyworld right now, or they just sat down to eat at Olive Garden, or they just taught their dog to roll over? Or how about the friend who just changed her relationship status to happily-married-to-the-most-wonderful-guy-ever and posts that she just ran a marathon, baked her grandma chocolate chip cookies, rescued a cat from a tree, and spent time with her perfect children.

When people share information, they have a motive. They want to communicate something and elicit some sort of response from those with whom they communicate. When you look at the vast number of posts, status updates, and photos, you ask, "What is this person trying to communicate to me?" If we look at posts and honestly ask ourselves that question, you can more often than not come to one answer -"I want you to know that I am important, that I am doing something interesting, and I matter!" The collective masses are jumping up and down yelling "look at me, look at me!"

A recent study on Facebook use identified two major reasons why humans find it to be so amazing. First, they are entertained. This is not surprising. We are an entertain-me society and have been for a while. But the second reason why Facebook is so alluring delves into realms that movies and television can not reach. Users are socially compensated. They gain recognition and are allowed to build and maintain a social status. This is major draw, especially for such a narcissistic, self-love oriented society.

The study says, "individuals gain gratification when they are recognized; supported, or their
relationships with others are being admitted and maintained." They go on to state that is part of a person's "mood maintenance." It's a form of online group-therapy where we go around the room (or screen in this case), stand and say, "Hi, my name is . . . and here is what I did today and what I plan to do tomorrow and what I think about this and that." The user feels satisfied, recognized, and more important than before.

The new status symbols are a great number of comments and likes, and a friend who doesn't like your latest quip or photo must be shunning you. That's life in Facebook. It allows us to promote self and soothe the ego.

The problem? You are not the center of the universe. You are not part of the center of the universe. You are nowhere near the center of the universe. What we are doing is continuning to sheild ourselves from reality. We are the masters of our domain, our image, and our worlds. Yet it is all grasping at the wind. If there is a definitive point to this blog entry, I suppose it is this: don't waste your life on yourself! God created you to glorify Him! And you know what the amazing thing is? He is most glorified when you get your greatest satisfaction in Him; and more specificially in Him through Jesus Christ. God made the two to go hand in hand. His glory and your satisfaction.

Does that mean you need to get off Facebook? Maybe for some. But maybe how you use Facebook would change if your greatest satisfaction came from Him and not from the acceptance you get through self promotion.

This is really only the tip of the iceburg for this subject, but my 21st Century attention span has passed. I must now wrap this up and post it on Facebook~!

1 comment:

  1. Want to make someone really mad? Unfriend them on Facebook, that really upsets some peoples self esteem. I have "unfriended" folks before for several different reasons.