The seflie is not the narcissistic pursuit of perfection, rather it is the desire to communicate the ‘glitch’ between who we perceive as ‘self’ and what we communicate as ‘self’.
Let me put it differently.
There is who I think I am. There is who you think I am. And then there is the me who I am searching for.
It is the ongoing seeking out of the person who we have been searching for. Each and every selfie is the desire to find someone, yet never sure who that someone is. A pursuit for this elusive person that we have been told about, have gone searching for, yet cannot find.
It is like hunting for ghosts. At the moment the shutter closes on the camera the ghost disappears and what we thought we saw through the lens has vanished.
Of course within the #Selfie culture we have the desire to be recognised, for fame. Celeste Barber has wonderfully exposed this with her Instagram selfies, highlighting the absurdity of the celebrity selfie.
Yet underneath this desire for fame is the base desire to find self.
Each selfie is a nostalgic desire to reclaim something we believe we have lost yet paradoxically never found.
Nostalgia is the desire for a past that never existed, yet we long for it, look at it with joy and a sense of loss, and seek to somehow reclaim it through our modern lives. But it never really existed.
The selfie is this ongoing nostalgic pursuit.
#Selfie is actually #Nostalgia.
The selfie is the pursuit of a past version of ourselves, that at this moment we will have captured the essence of who I really am, a person in reality that never really existed. But we try to capture it, and it vanishes every time the shutter on the camera closes.
All around us people are taking selfies, and so with the mimetic wave we pursue, believing that perhaps the crowd has discovered something, binding us together in the nostalgic tune that the selfie plays.
Not only this, but such is our denial of death, the selfie is a symptom of a culture that refuses to believe that things fade away like the ashes of burnt paper in the wind. Perhaps in the selfie we can capture our own immortality?
It is difficult to communicate to the world around who it is we are as human beings, especially when we are unsure ourselves of who it is ‘I’ am. Bombarded by images of the way we ‘should’ look, what we ‘should’ eat, wear, drive and live in, as well as what kind of life we ‘should’ live according to the whitewashed lives of our ‘friends’ on social media, it is no wonder we scramble around on our phones seeking out an image that might convey the real self.
To discover our true selves, to be truly human, is to know we are loved, loved not by the image displayed on our phones, or the ‘likes’ clicked, but by the impact of the relationship we share, human to human, captured by the moments of life shared together in vulnerability, honesty, authenticity and brokenness. Moments where our joy and laughter is experienced in the depth of love we share together, relationships established in trust and mutuality, not veneer and gloss.
To discover our true selves is not to live in a state of nostalgic longing, but to embrace the now and delight ourselves in it. The now is all we have, and to deny ourselves it in nostalgic pursuit of a past that never existed and a future that will never exist, is to deny ourselves truth, love and beauty. Even the traumatic now is important because it is real. Painful, yes, but real. And it is the real we need.
The real is found in now.
Every photo and video can remind us of what once was, but we must not look upon them in nostalgic bliss that creates longing for times once been. Rather, we must embrace the now through these photos, reminding us to live today in the beautiful complexity of the now.
‘A déjà vu is usually a glitch in the Matrix. It happens when they change something.’ Trinity
Everything changes every moment. The river I step in today will never be the same again. The selfie seeks to capture something, to prevent change, yet everything is changing, constantly. This state of flux can unsettle us, often subconsciously, leaving us searching for a point of support. Nostalgia can embody this.
Yet all we have is now. A now that is to be lived relationally, not detached from ourselves or others or God. Here in relationship, in the hard work, laughter and tears of relationship that we were all created to be in, we discover #Self, a self that cannot be captured in a photograph, or nostalgically reflected upon, but lived in with others in the beauty and brokenness and complexity of our shared humanness.