Selfie Rage

Dylan Thomas with Smart Phone

Dylan Thomas with Smart Phone

After posting my previous blog entry (6 Tips for Taking the Perfect Selfie) I was inundated by friends expressing their Selfie Rage via private email or text message.

“Thanks for ruining my morning,” writes one friend.

“I hesitate to post a public response to your Selfie blog because I am severely triggered by it,” writes another. “People are so annoying, puckering and flexing. Now I am angry. I think I will get drunk.”

Yet another writes, “I have a friend who looks poised, posed and perfect in every Selfie, then posts it publicly on Facebook, making me cringe.  Do I cringe because I cannot look as pretty in a photo or is it all the fun she is supposedly having? Is it because everyone else takes so many fucking Selfies…? WTF?”

For those of you perturbed by your emotional knee-jerk reaction, or should I say flood of searing fury, consider these bastardized words of Dylan Thomas:

Do not the Selfie try to fight,

Its phonyness is Facebook’s way.

Rage, rage against the dying of your plight.

 

Though wise you are and ever right,

Puckered Selfie lips have naught to say.

Do not the Selfie try to fight.

 

My dear, alas, you cry for spite

Of inane deeds, made public, that go not away,

Rage, rage against the dying of your plight.

 

Weaker souls than yours in social media delight,

And will never learn they have lost their way,

Do not the Selfie try to fight.

 

Grave men, and women, who see with blinding sight

The stupidity of others, to you I say nay,

Rage, rage against the dying of your plight.

 

And you, my friend, there on that sad height,

Waste not your condemnation, I pray.

Do not the Selfie try to fight.

Rage, rage against the dying of your plight.

6 Tips for Taking the Perfect Selfie

Selfies are so 2014. Obama, Ellen, You!

There is no simpler way to proclaim your inclusion in the contemporary webisphere than to reach out arm, peer wistfully into lens, and hit send.

The possibilities for fun are endless say I, a self-professed Selfie lover.  It’s a form of self-expression that lays waste to ones sense of shame and decorum and, with a click, strengthens the bonds between people. I’m not kidding!

In the digital era where all things social-media seem to do naught but make us aware of how shabby our lives are in comparison to others (look at all the “Likes” so-and-so got for their smiley happy Facebook photo) the Selfie offers an opportunity to make a deeper connection than its superficial nature might suggest.  Simply let go of any notion of being cool (or, heavens, hip!), forgo the need for public approval, and be ever in the moment.

1. Just the Two of You

My Life Without You

Oscar ceremonies aside, Selfies work best when created with no more than one other person in mind.  A private Selfie can work as a wonderful inside joke between friends, lovers, etc.  Emailing or texting a uniquely crafted Selfie to a single recipient is a way of saying, “I am thinking of you and have no problem making a fool of myself to show it.”  Physical distance between friends collapses into an intimate, privately shared, moment. 

2.  Look Bad

Ugly Selfie

You cannot look good in a Selfie. Any attempt to do so will make you look like a douchebag or a slut, all that posing and puckering of lips.  So don’t bother.  Instead, take the opposite approach.  Look as haggard and disheveled as possible.  This will instill in your audience-of-one a sense of joy as they marvel at how awful you look.  It also enables them to feel better about how crappy they are looking at that moment too.  The great Selfie says, “Look at me, I’m just as ordinary as you”, as opposed to “Look at me, these lips were made to suck… never mind.”

3.  Obscure Yourself

Selfie With Fake Fruit

Looking bad is easy to embellish with the help of any at-hand prop.  Plant, doll, plastic cup.  Any of these can be used to ensure you look as ridiculous as possible.  This will also elicit a guaranteed response from viewer to the effect of, “Wow, look how they’re hiding their face with the bowl.  Super cool.”  And it is!

4.  Interact with your Surroundings

Paris Whisper Selfie  Selfie with Little Woman on Shoulder  Selfie With Mannequins

For all the self-aggrandizing ego inflation that the Selfie can engender, you are the least interesting thing about it.  The context within which you place yourself, however, is where the fun really resides.  It’s that sly juxtaposition between you and your surroundings that is the mark of a great Selfie.  DMV line, Grade “C” diner, cancer ward. You get the idea.

Note: NO BATHROOMS!

Bathroom Selfies

Enough said.Bathroom Selfies5.  Take Multiple Versions

Selfie with Wine Glass 1  Selfie with Wine Glass 2  Selfie with Wine Glass 3

Any photographer worth their salt knows that you aren’t likely to get the shot right the first time.  Keep taking pictures until you are totally satisfied.  You’ll be happier with the results, and everyone around you will appreciate watching you perfect your shot.  Yes, they will also shake their heads and “tut-tut” at your insanity, but it will give them a reason to smile despite the doldrums of their equally mundane lives. 

6.  Carpe Selfie

Selfie with Baby Mannequin

Lost at J.C. Penney?  Carpe Selfie.  Bored at work?  Carpe Selfie.  Traffic at a standstill on the 405 again?  Carpe Selfie.

Any moment of life’s banality can be instantly transformed into a Selfie opportunity, thereby infusing it with purpose and wonder.  Remember, though, you’re not in this alone.  Let thoughts of your recipient guide you to lavish every Selfie with love, care, and a sense of joy.

And there you have it, 6 simple steps to celebrate your connection to another human being.  With you as its star, the Selfie becomes a tool for self-realization, profound connection, even art itself.

Eat your heart out, Annie Leibovitz.

______________________

PS – Have you noticed how everything lately is a list?

21 Absolute best wardrobe malfunctions

13 Images that will restore your faith in humanity

18 Everyday things you aren’t doing right

Of note is the seemingly random number of items, as if the collection is so honest the compiler couldn’t round it up to 20, or down to 10.  So wonderfully down to earth that you simply must read.  It isn’t definitive, and that’s its allure.  Or is it just a ploy to get more hits?

Obamac-c-c-can We Not Talk About It?

Fear of Healthcare.gov

I love a good conversation, that most ancient of art forms. Its word-laden arena sets us on high as a species and allows us as individuals to break away from our inherent loneliness (or animal nature) and make a connection, a true connection, with another person. Oh, the exultant joy of being conversationally human, exercising our brains as we plunge, fearlessly, into discussions on every topic from from typhoon Haiyan, to the discovery of multiple earth-like planets, to the latest episode of Project Runway Allstars. I love it all.

However, mention American healthcare and I turn into some “thing” from an Edvard Munch painting; tongue tied, ears reddening, wanting to scream, unable to scream, gibbering, head shaking, body quivering, hopelessly, utterly, ruined. I can do naught but hunker down behind the couch, suck on the hem of my t-shirt, and make that nice squelchy sound that only happens when you sook on a piece of saliva-drenched cloth. Maybe it’s more Francis Bacon than Munch.

I like to think I am a reasonably articulate individual, one capable of explaining myself and defending my point of view. When it comes to this topic, though, I’m useless. My rage blinds me to the point of paralysis, conversational or otherwise. And yet surely this forum is a place for me to explain to you why I am so upset. After all, I can take as much time as I need to articulate my thoughts. But I just can’t do it. My brain stopped working at the start of paragraph 2.

Maybe the tiniest of examples can help me overcome this paralysis.

I currently work for a company that provides a healthcare plan (hip-hip-hooray for dependence on corporate America). Until recently, I had the option of three different plans, all with different deductibles, coverage percentages, and whatnot. Such choice. These plans have now been replaced with two choices (Why? Don’t ask me.), neither of which looks quite as comprehensive as my previous plan and cost more to boot. Being a dutiful consumer, I put in a call to the human resources department to understand which new plan I should pick. Within minutes of listening to the high-pitched, cue-card reading, woman on the other end of the line I was utterly confused by coverage costs, out of pocket expenses, deductibles, in-network doctors, and so on and so forth.  I just wanted to know which plan made more sense.

Her: “Well, how many unexpected medical procedures are you planning to have next year?”
Me: “Excuse me?” Isn’t the whole point of an unexpected medical procedure that you can’t expect it?
Her: “Well, that depends on how you view health insurance.”
Me: “Eh…. No, it doesn’t.”

At this point the woman just got huffy with me even as I tried to argue that gambling with ones money (did I mention I’m paying more for less?) is not the same as gambling with ones health. She wasn’t having any of it and I wound up with the more expensive plan on the assumption that if the proverbial fecal matter hits the fan, I’ll have some recourse that won’t cost me too many thousands of dollars.  And if it does I can always declare bankruptcy.

Perhaps my decision was irrational.  Perhaps I’ve gotten it wrong, and picked a plan that is going to cost far too much for what I get in return.  Truth is, I don’t want to think about it.

I don’t want to think about being sick unless I am sick. I don’t want to think about a loved one being sick, EVER, unless, heaven forbid, they get sick.  And then the only thing I want to think about is them, or me, getting better.

There is something profoundly horrific about America’s insistence that we treat healthcare as a free-marketplace business. It negates our very psychology at dealing with matters of mortality, our confrontation with things threatening and impure.

Picture a loved one’s stomach with a pus-filled open wound.  Imagine the gnarled fleshy pink tumor competing for space inside a parent’s skull.  Consider the plaque build-up constricting the flow of blood to your own heart.  Or the crack of bones as a child you know and love is hit by an oncoming Honda Civic.

The mere discussion of such threats is fundamentally horrifying, for it forces us to contemplate our own impending doom and that of the people we love. No wonder we avoid the conversation entirely.

But in choice-loving America, we are forced to contemplate the horrific, contrary to our very natures. The healthcare conversation is elevated to national heights, sitting alongside politically relevant topics such as economic recovery or military might. But this is a topic that simply doesn’t belong there. The very nature of healthcare is such that we cannot rationally have that conversation. There is nothing rational whatsoever about facing guaranteed death.

This is why civilized nations have national healthcare systems.

But not America. No, not America. Because free-market choice trumps everything in America. And I am forced to call the human resource department and make an irrational choice about what unexpected medical procedures I anticipate having next year. And having made that choice I head back behind the couch and make some more squelchy sounds.

USA, USA, USA.