I hate selfies. They almost always look ridiculous, and if you figure out how not to look ridiculous, chances are, you spent way too long trying. 2015 was the year of the selfie – the year that more people died from taking selfies than shark attacks, to be exact. (Cue Jaws music as unsuspecting person falls off ledge trying to snap the “perfect pic.”)
A couple times, recently, when I was somewhere memorable (first at the YouTube NYC headquarters two weeks ago, and then on vacation with my husband last week), I attempted to capture the moment with a selfie as a last resort. Something marvelous happened in both instances: a stranger approached me to #savemefrommyselfie and offered to take the pic.
It got me thinking about a mashal (parable) I heard many years ago about the difference between heaven and hell, according to Jewish thought. A man dies and first goes to hell. He sees a banquet table full of lavish food, but the people sitting at the table are gaunt and starving. Why? Because their elbows are locked and every time they try to feed themselves, they can’t get the food into their mouths.
A moment later, the man is whisked away to heaven, and quite surprisingly he sees nearly the same set up as in hell – a lavishly set banquet table filled with people with locked elbows. In heaven, however, all the diners are plump and well-fed. Why the difference? Because in heaven, each person with locked elbows turns to her neighbor to feed her.
Which brings me back to the selfie. Why are we stuck taking our own pictures (with locked elbows)?! It used to be, back in the day, that if we wanted to catch a picture of ourselves somewhere special, we’d approach another human being and ask him or her for help. Woe is the generation whose interactions with other humans are gone! They say that social media is cutting us off from other people – perhaps we are just too busy staring at ourselfies to notice all the people walking by!
So let’s make a pact – let’s ask people for help, to take our pictures. Let’s look for poor fools struggling with awful angles and offer to help them. And together you and I can #savemefrommyselfie. (Just for fun, let’s try hash tagging #savemefrommyselfie whenever we stop a selfie from occurring and maybe, just maybe, 2016 can be the year we end the selfie!)