The SELF in your SELFIE: Discovering Authenticity in the Material World

Alyssa Amezcua
Alyssa Amezcua

 

Lately, I’ve been thinking alot on social media trends. And mostly, I’ve been getting a weird feeling in my gut about these social trends and feeds of ‘information’ I’ve chosen to indulge in. Much like the feeling you get from eating too much, I often walk away from the world online feeling sick, feeling so full of sh*t that I think I might actually explode. I just feel like I’m being forced to sit back and watch as my generation becomes less and less authentic. And I know that sounds hateful and unsupportive but I guess I just feel disappointed.

I see my peers post these pictures of themselves and I wonder how we got here. I scroll through selfie after selfie after selfie and I don’t know…I just think to myself——what? what does that even mean? As conscious, wildly intelligent creatures, what does it mean that we no longer see past the surface—that we base our identities on these false, physical representations of beauty?

And even on my high horse, I still find myself falling off and into the selfie trend, too. Which scares me. It worries me that I struggle to be authentic in this world. So, I decided to go in search of something deeper behind this phenomenon; some hidden meanng that might justify this social trend which appears to be an insane amount of vanity. 

Here are some of the questions I pondered:

+ When I post a selfie——what is it exactly that I wish for people to see?
       
This image of me—

…is it truly, authentically me

…is it who I am, or is it an idea of me?

 …is it who I want to be?

…or is it what I think other people want me to be?

Back to the WHEN part of that first question, when is it that I feel compelled to submit these pictures of myself?

 Is it during times of self-doubt?

 Is it during times I have forgotten my own self?

 Why do I need validation of my own worth?

 Why do I allow the materialistic world to influence my perception of beauty? 

And if I am making the conscious choice to post a picture I took of myself, aren’t I also choosing to say, “this is picture of me. I took this picture of me and I like this picture of me. I like this image which I believe is a legitimate representation of my physical beauty. Clearly I am confident, now I just need you to agree.” 

…..oh yeah. 
I need you to agree——I don’t fully believe in what I see so I need you to tell me or rather, “like” me in order to feel better about myself, right?

And yet there is still a certain confidence in the posted selfie, isn’t there? I mean, you gotta have some kinda pride, some type of love for yourself to put that out there, right? 

So then it seems there is a contradiction in the publicly presented selfie: Are selfies for the overly-confident or the deeply-insecure? Are they egotistical or are they self-deprecating? Is there a balance? And should it not also be taken into account that the technology of the self-photograph has never before been possible. Perhaps our obsession is nothing more than our participation in the technological advances of today?

We live in this world of endless technology allowing us to connect to one another more than ever before, right? Yet many people argue that as humans, we have become sodependent on our online presence that we have in truth, lost our connection to ourselves; to our earth; and to our fellow man. Then there are those who insist that the more tech-based we’ve become, the less artistic and creative we have become. For instance, music is now accessible to anyone at anytime via the web. Accordingly, we see artists and listeners alike urging the community to tap back into the artistic process that goes into the production of music. Have we become less interested in the meaning of things simply because we have unlimited access to them? Is it possible to achieve a balance and put forth an authentic form of self-expression through social media? 

 Anyway, I thought about all of that when I started acknowledging the social media accounts I follow that I do appreciate–and that I do look to for inspiration on a regular basis. Indeed, it seems there are those who have figured out how to use technology and social media in a way that is artistic, authentic, and relatable. Interestingly enough, there is even a small sphere of social media accounts which have mastered the selfie, presenting it in a way that people seem to respond to. Often, these accounts are the ones with the most followers so that it seems that many of us in society have chosen to support this seemingly vapid stream of the human experience. I follow you and you follow me until we’re all following one another.

 Maybe this is our modern way of supporting one another. Maybe it’s not so bad if we double-tap a selfie if it makes someone feel better. Maybe this experience of the selfie can also be a form of self-love——a way of showing the world that there is an essence beauty in loving yourself. I don’t know.. all I know is that this is a complex time we’re all living in. We’re all strugglin’. We’re all hurtin’. and damn it if we aren’t all lovin, what the hell are we doin’?

I still have a thousand different questions on this issue but I’ve become less interested in the negative ideas of selfies which say they are purely vain or egotistical. I think now I am more aware of the role we’re all playing for each other. I think now that maybe love is at the core of what I am really interested in. I think now I use selfies to get a form of love and like selfies to give some form of love. 

Ultimately, I think the essential question I want answered is why?——why do we find truth in photographs of other people and consequentially, why do we find truth in photographs of ourselves?

So far, this is what I think.I think it’s important to look at pictures of yourself every so often; to see the wear and tear of your years. To view your emotions portrayed; how they differ depending on the moments your in. And to make notice of the way the glisten in your eyes is quite the same as it once was——when you were a blissful and curious child, is such a wonderful reminder of your youth, I think.  Maybe you look at a picture of yourself that brings you back to the spirit inside you. Maybe you have days you feel lost and this picture helps you believe in yourself again. Maybe it’s like that song ‘Praise You’. Maybe looking at an image of yourself is just the way you’ve got to praise you.

By this same light, look and look again at pictures of other people, too. Think of the images of anyone that loves and supports you as the images of your heart. Hold them near to you always so that you may always access those pieces of you. And whenever you have time, think for a moment——think of your most favorite faces, faces of love and friendship and comfort. Think of the faces that make you feel safe without saying anything. Think of a stranger’s face——of how one random smile can alter the course of your entire day. Think of the faces of loss and of pain and how sadness, if you look close enough, has a way of softening someone’s eyes in the most beautiful way. Then, think about the way someone’s face lights up when they talk about someone they love——how their eyes widen and their cheeks blush. Remember that so many people do that when they think of you.

 Finally, think of the faces that made you; of your mother’s and your father’s faces. Think of the crinkles in their skin and the folds in their hands. Think of how their face is a constant in your life. A source of love and unconditional support to which you may always return. These faces; these bodies; these hearts and these souls. These are your makers. These are you, in a sense.

 Think all of this so that in the end, you remember who you are.

You are a conscious, loving human being who is rejoicing in the beauty around you. 

Now, you must go and source your entire human life from that beauty. 

 
Let the love inside of you be your only truth.  

XX

—Alyssa

This article originally appeared on blogspot.