Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Selfie Nation: The Year of the Narcissist

According to Twitter, that time-honored bastion of journalistic integrity, 2014 was the year of the selfie. From fish lips (a.k.a. I still look beautiful with a funny face) and no-makeup (a.k.a. I still look beautiful without mascara) to inflated butts and egos (the K-clan shall remain nameless; they get enough attention for having no talent.), we are obsessed with self-marketing. And why not? Aren’t we all supposed to be famous when we grow up? We all want our own viral moment, our own YouTube "I've never ever been on live television before" getting songified (yes, that is an actual word). Pshaw, those fifteen minutes that Warhol promised? We want our own scripted reality show, or Food Network show, or twice monthly thirty-minutes on Andy Cohen’s couch. 

Welcome to a culture gone terribly wrong, where celebrity, wealth, and self-indulgence rules. Welcome to world of a million voices raised in a collective whine: I lack talent or personality, but I was born to be Somebody. 

Eeewww.     

I am as guilty as everyone else for glorifying this celebrity culture gone all selfie-rogue. I’ve been known to check on the activities of housewives from Beverly Hills and Jersey. I’ve simultaneously cheered and recoiled as tables were thrown and wigs ripped off. I feel dirty and need a shower afterwards, but I still watch. 

And there are few more self-indulgent activities than blogging, so who am I to criticize? There was a time when writers would seek hire and, if they were witty and resourceful and perhaps talented, they would find gainful employment. Now, to standout among the celebrity-seekers we sometimes have to do the ridiculous, tout a Lady Gaga-esque gimmick, and often we have to do it for free. We millions of would-be writers dogpaddle together in a sea of blogging and facebooking and tweeting and begging to be noticed. Soon enough the dogpaddling becomes treading water, which is death to creativity.

For writers, it isn’t about becoming famous. Of course there is always a thrill when I earn a paid byline, but the thrill is fleeting. A writer is only as good as her next story, and we want our words to get the attention, not our butts.

So ends 2014, year of the selfie. It would be nice if 2015 became year that narcissists used their power for good. Or perhaps the year the narcissists and their enormous egos and behinds disappear.

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