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March 16 - No Selfies Day

I am amazed by the speed with which technology changes. Where culture and technology once passed us by at the speed of a Schwinn Stingray, today they are moving at the speed of a bullet train. I recognize the blessings of technological advancements and yet I wonder if culture is driving technology or if technology is driving culture.


My first camera was an old square Brownie. It’s not that I’m that old, it’s just that it was the first camera that I was allowed to use on my own. At the time I could have never imagined that one day I could take a picture with a phone or that I could see the image immediately (rather than having wait to get film developed). Taking a selfie was impossible without a tripod.


This comes to mind as March 16 is “No Selfie Day”. Does it strike you odd that our obsession with selfies is so great that we need a selfieless day? One source suggests that the average person takes a staggering 450 selfies every year? Wow! Possibly culture and technology is moving past me faster than a bullet train!


Technology is not created in a vacuum; technology mirrors the values, beliefs, and priorities of the culture that produces it. So what does the need for a no selfie day indicate about our culture? That we are self-absorbed. For example, don’t we first notice ourselves rather than others in a group picture. It’s no wonder that selfies are popular.


While some may say that being self-focused is only natural, scripture encourages us to not focus on ourselves alone but others too. The Apostle Paul says, “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” (Philippians 2:3–4)


The very definition of a selfie is: a photograph that one has taken of oneself. Sometimes others may be included in our selfie, but if I am not in it, it is not a selfie. Where a “selfie attitude” puts me at the center, Paul is saying that at a bare minimum others should be in the shot too. In fact, best case would be for me to take a picture that benefits others and not just myself. Is it technology that has made selfies possible, or has our need to be at the center pushed technology to make selfies easier?


Have you ever said, or heard someone else say they need some “me time.” I understand what they mean, but truthfully, technology has given us more “me time” than any generation before. Fair or not, in 2013 Time Magazine declared millennials to be the “Me, Me, Me Generation” Why? They cited a National Institutes of Health report that said the incidence of narcissistic personality disorder was nearly three times as high for people in their 20s as it was for the generation that was 65 or older.


Certainly millennials don’t have a corner of the market on self-centeredness; it is part of the fallen nature of mankind. Paul tells us that the solution is to look up, to take our eyes off of ourselves and “consider the needs and interests of others.” However, unless we are transformed, made new in Christ, we’ll find this to be about as easy as it is to run a race through snow drifts.


Jesus tells us that love is the way, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12) However, the love that Jesus is speaking about isn’t the polite, warm feeling type of love. He’s speaking about the love that denies self; it’s the kind of love that took Jesus to the cross on Good Friday to die for our sins. “God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8 )


If we want a picture of this love we could look at James Tissot’s painting  "What Our Lord Saw from the Cross". Jesus had us in view from the cross. If Jesus had a camera on Calvary, he wouldn’t have taken a selfie; Jesus would have taken a panoramic shot to include the religious leaders, the Roman soldiers who persecuted him and it would have extend through time to include us too.


Jesus didn’t go to the cross for his glory but our salvation. As Easter comes, make it your goal to have a selfieless attitude by focusing on others through Christ.

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