My nephew is back at home for the holidays. We all had lunch together on Christmas day. We took advantage of the occasion to take our family portrait pictures for the year. However, this time, Uncle not only dug out his tripod from his drawer of gadgets but also a Bluetooth-enabled selfie stick. As my nephew watched Uncle perching his iPhone on the stick, he turned to me and exclaimed, “Uncle looks so young with the selfie stick!”
I couldn’t help but chuckled. Uncle is nearly 65, an age not exactly associated with selfies and their related paraphernalia. The people who wield sticks to take pictures of themselves are the 20-something tourists, mainly, honeymooning couples. As we all squeezed ourselves into the frame, I thought how by the time I was my nephew’s age, I could estimate there were about only 20 or 30 pictures of myself. Now, we are able to record ourselves whenever and wherever we want to, and post our pictures for the world to see. A couple of weeks ago, I sat, watching fascinated how two teen aged girls on the bus were posing and making funny faces into their smartphones, completely oblivious of where they were. And just recently, at work, the youngest of my coworkers happened over two discarded artificial branches of berries (from the Christmas wreath). She stuck them in her hair, pulled out her phone, and started to take selfies. It was her playfulness and the lack of self-consciousness that struck me the most as she giggled and turned her head this and that way as she kept shooting. Had it been me, I wouldn’t think I could pose with such abandon in the office or anywhere but the privacy of my own home—and that is, if only I stop listening to childhood voices, my elders’ voices, warning me against vanity while encouraging modesty. Yes, I belong to the days when spending too much time in front of the mirror was frowned upon. Today, you know all about your best angles and facial expressions. If you’re not taking a picture of yourself, you may be missing a chance to awe not just your friends but the entire world too.
I don’t do selfies at the rate young people do. Selfies are cute when you’re eighteen, but at my age, I’m afraid I might be thought as going senile not cute. But in spite of all the navel-gazing selfies and social media may cause, I think there is something about selfies that do make you feel young again. Maybe it’s because there is no stranger holding the camera, but instead it is just you (and the knowledge that you can delete any photos that don’t please you) that can be so liberating to the spirit. My family’s and friends’ selfie group pictures seem to be so much happier and spontaneous. Just crowding into the frame requires us to break formality. Instead of holding ourselves seated or standing stiffly, we looked like a bunch of people jockeying for the center of the picture. We look like we’re just having fun.