Selfies – Got your duck face ready?

Here at small2TALL we talk a lot about raising men into God-fearing gentlemen, but we have daughters too. And we need to instill the right values in them as well. I, myself, have a daughter and two step-daughters.  Two of them are teenagers and one will be soon enough.  It’s equally important that I teach and guide them as well as my sons and step-sons.  That thought has recently led me to the selfie craze.  This may, on the surface seem like a topic that isn’t even worth discussing.  I can’t even count how many times, in response to this issue, I’ve heard “What’s the big deal?  They’re all doing it these days.”  And if you don’t dig deep, it’s easy to leave it there.  But, as men of God and intentional fathers, we have to dig deep.  So, let’s look at selfies. (pun intended)

“They’re all doing it these days” is unfortunately a true statement.  In fact “selfie” was named the 2013 oxford word of the year. That fact brings a chuckle to most people, but it makes me cringe.  I thought maybe I was in the minority, thinking that the selfie craze is a problem but a quick google search will turn up hundreds of articles and research studies that have examined the history of, reasons for and effects of selfies.
 
Selfies have become an extention of social media’s assault on our lives.  They further the idea that we should give the world an all access pass to our lives.  This began with Myspace and Facebook.  The concept of a Facebook status was to give interesting information to friends and family about what’s going on in our lives.  Over the years, our social media society has taken that too far.  Now instead of posting about a trip to Europe, or the birth of a child, we post what we are having for dinner or the fact that we are at the gym.  Why? 
 
Selfies have made the same transition.  They’ve been around for decades.  You can find portraits on the Internet of people taking selfies almost as soon as cameras were available.  The first use of the word “selfie” can be traced back to about 2002.  But the recent progression should cause us to pause and examine what’s going on.  Like Facebook statuses, what once was an occasional picture to commemorate a special event, has morphed into hundreds of teenage girls (and boys) posting pictures of themselves almost constantly, not to commemorate an event, but just to be posting a picture.  And that begs the same question.  Why?  And what has fostered this change is the ubiquitous access to technology.  Practically every teenage child walks around with a camera and internet access in their pocket every day. 
So what’s the purpose of the selfie?  The research shows two possibilities for the answer to that question and neither of them are good.  Reason number one: Vanity/Pride.  Reason number two: Insecurity.  Both of these come from a need to have someone affirm our outer beauty.  If that, by itself, isn’t a red flag to all fathers, we have a problem.  Our daughters are posting pictures of themselves on the Internet for the world to see.  I can’t imagine that I’m the only father who sees the problem. 

The other response I hear a lot in response to selfies is “It doesn’t really hurt anything”.  If you agree, you should take a look at the study “Tagger’s delight? Disclosure and liking in Facebook: the effects of sharing photographs amongst multiple known social circles” Houghton, David and Joinson, Adam and Caldwell, Nigel and Marder, Ben (2013).  This study shows that overuse of selfies can actually damage real-life relationships.  That’s not a hard statement to wrap your mind around.  If you know someone who is constantly posting pictures of herself to gather comments and praise from friends, you probably have already felt how it can damage a real-life relationship.  Those that repeatedly post pictures on social media sites are seen as self-centered and shallow.  That’s not how I want to raise my daughters, or how I want the world to view them. 

As fathers, and as men of God, we have a responsibility to teach our daughters what to do and what not to do.  I mentioned earlier that the purpose of posting selfies is to fish for affirmation of beauty.  We need to be teaching our daughters what true beauty is.  That beauty comes from within.  That God created them to think much more of themselves than to try to fish for compliments on the Internet.  We need to see them, and teach them to see themselves from God’s eyes.  As His creations.  As His daughters.  As His princesses.

 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Phillipians 4:8.

You can’t see that in a selfie.

Walking tall through Christ,
Kevin

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