Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Selfie Generation

Ahhh, the selfie.  Grab your phone (or perhaps an actual camera) and turn the lens upon yourself.  Hold it in the right spot, at the right angle and capture your best you on... film?  Well, you know what I mean.  Capture the perfect shot for Instagram, or your new Facebook profile pic or PicTwit (TwitPic?) yourself to your little heart's content. 

Since I have lost a little weight and feel a little bit better about myself I have come to appreciate the value of a good selfie.  From the fat mom who hid behind the camera through most of my kids' childhoods, it's kinda nice to not hate every photo taken of me.  And hey, sometimes the most fun selfie is the one you pull a a friend or family member into with you.  Heck, they made a whole stick to attach to your phone just so you could widen the scope of your photo... that and so you could do something about that giant arm in the photo that's reaching up to the camera (oh the calamity of a tank top!) but I digress. 

As the mom of two teens I would say that there is a whole generation of "selfie pic" people rising up.  For some the selfie has become another art form of expression.  The pouty lip, the tongue hanging out, a "gang" sign or two thrown in for good measure, the mirror pics of favored outfits, sometimes silly, sometimes serious, the selfie definitely does NOT fall into a single category of expression.  Sometimes fun, sometimes deep, occasionally inappropriate (hello? we do not need to see all that cleavage and your new bikini all over the net!) the selfie has the power to communicate many things: isolating, inclusive, exclusionary and more, the gamete is run. 

But today I find myself thinking about some of the dangers and downsides of being a part of a selfie generation, and I don't just mean my teens.  Really it's not about the age of the generation taking selfies (and let's be honest, there's a wide gamete of ages there as well) but it's about the downfall of making anything all about self. 

I grew up in a generation where people were actually allowed to "agree to disagree."  There has always been a wide spectrum of beliefs, attitudes, values and convictions.  Sometimes it meant allowing people to be ignorant, even hateful, in another man's opinion even WRONG, but it was all a part of the FREEDOM of thought, speech and belief.  But I see that disappearing these days. 

Today if your opinion differed from the prevailing approved politically correct perception you are not just wrong but you are hateful, bigoted, even vilified. I am a middle class, white American conservative pro-life Christian... in some circles, some more growing and popular circles, that makes me a domestic terrorist for heaven's sake.  

I looked up the word bigoted, and it is defined as "having or revealing an obstinate belief in the superiority of one's own opinions and a prejudiced intolerance of the opinions of others." I find this definition interesting.  Because it occurs to me, aren't MOST people obstinate in their beliefs?  And don't MOST people hold to their beliefs because they believe they are somehow superior?  Or right?  I mean, why would anyone hold to a belief if they didn't believe in its merit.  Even if someone passionately believed you should not hold to tightly to one's personal beliefs, didn't they just do what they said the believed against?  Just a thought (and for the record I think a good one.)  

The biggest problem with this selfie generation mentality is that too many people have begun to buy into the lie that everyone needs to look the same.  Everyone needs to believe the same, hold to the same ideals and have the same exact convictions.  

I think we need to stop working so hard to get all the beliefs to line up and instead learn to accept the differences.  It's ok that you think your beliefs are the best, it really is.  But it's not ok to make someone else a bad person just because they don't agree with you.  Disagreeing is ok.  It's fascinating to me how so many who have claimed to feel oppressed and bullied by, say, the right wing "extremists" (tongue firmly inserted in cheek here) like myself are now trying to oppress and bully people who hold to conservative Christian values.  I'm not saying either attitude is ok, but I am saying don't judge in someone else what you are unwilling to acknowledge in yourself.  Like I have said to my children so many times, "If it's not ok for them, then it's not ok for you."  

Another warning about the selfie attitude - not everything is about YOU.  Just because I think abortion is wrong doesn't mean I am attacking YOU because YOU had an abortion.  Just because I don't want to teach my five-year-old about homosexual sex doesn't mean I hate you (for the record, I didn't want to teach my five-year-old about sex at all, but protecting a child's innocence just keeps getting harder and harder.  

Now I acknowledge that what I am expressing here is MY perception, but I am willing to acknowledge it is not necessarily the same as yours.  BUT rather than getting heated and overwrought because you don't see things my way, and you aren't perceiving ME the way I want you to, maybe it's time to turn that "lens" off of self and look out into the world around us.  I'm not even talking about having to find common ground, but I AM talking about offering mutual respect, kindness and finding the ability to accept that all the world is not going to agree with me.  Or you.   And that's ok. 

And it's OK if you think I'm wrong, or you think I am ignorant.  It's ok even if you think I am a domestic terrorist, but as long as my opinion is just that, then perhaps we should lighten up on the dogma and hostility.  We don't have to be made into enemies because we hold to different ideals.  We have that right.  We even have the right to be wrong.  I have news for you, everybody is. 

A last little note to my Christian friends, the ones who see my point, the ones who might be a little concerned about what they are reading here, and even the ones who think I have abandoned my principles altogether: We are called to LOVE.  I'm not going to get into a giant discussion about what that means or looks like, but I am going to say that we are called to love ALL people.  And PEOPLE are not supposed to be our enemies.  We do have an enemy, and he is having a FIELD DAY with all the hate and divisiveness that is going on in our world today.  Nothing makes him happier than when we smear the reputation of our God with hateful words, hurtful attitudes and unloving demeanor. There is a lot in the world that isn't the way we would like it to be, but God called us to be His vessels, not his clanging bells.  He called us to be the light and that WILL take care of darkness.