Friday, November 29, 2013

#333 / Selfies And Society

"Selfie" is the global Word of the Year, at least according to Oxford Dictionaries. Ruben Navarrette, Jr. isn't exactly applauding. 

Navarrette is a syndicated columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle. In a column appearing on Wednesday, November 20th, Navarrette says that the world doesn't revolve around us. We are NOT special! We need to get over the idea that we are, and the proliferation of "selfies" may be an indication that we are moving in more or less the wrong direction: 

Navarrette's column is worth reading, and I think he is on target in emphasizing that the world doesn't revolve around us. At least, it doesn't revolve around as as individuals. A world of "selfies" is a world that won't work. The word "selfie," after all, is related etymologically to the word "selfish," and unless you have been deeply dyed by your readings in Ayn Rand, you have probably figured out, based on your own experience, that individual selfishness is not a good foundation for a good society.

In his column, Navarrette declares that his interest is in finding the right way for human beings to relate to one another, a concern that he identifies as one of the "bigger issues." Thus, his denunciation of the "world revolves around me" syndrome.

While I think Navarrette is right to target what he might call the "selfie" phenomenon, I may not be in complete agreement with his analysis. In contradiction to what Navarrette says, I think it is important to recognize that each one of us does, individually, have special gifts, and is, indeed, "special." That is an important truth, and we need to know that about ourselves - and about others. Each one of use is immensely important as an individual (a "piece of good news"), but there is an "equal and opposite" truth, too. We are not only individuals. We are part of a whole, and we are in this life together. If we forget that, we are doomed.

"Selfies" (like self-promoting politicians) can distract us from the basic truth of our human situation. Thanks to Reuben for the reminder!

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