In the contemporary times, the world is witnessing a new phenomenon, called the selfie obsession. This selfie obsession has surged all levels of ‘narcissism’ prevalent in the society and has set a new threshold for self-obsession. This all has culminated in the technological hype of mobile-face cameras and addition of unrealistic beautification filters.
This selfie-obsession has proved dangerous for the society as, to get the best, people don’t fear climbing steep cliffs, putting the head in the jaws of crocodiles, standing on edgy skyscrapers etc.
Alas! the number of deaths resulting from such selfies and self-obsession is surging high with each passing year. In a recent incident, a person died after putting his head in between the jaws of a crocodile just for the sake of a selfie and the crocodile clutching onto his head. “Selfie and driving” is as dangerous as “drinking and driving”, as it threatens the lives of many on the road.
In Greek mythology Narcissus was a hunter from Thespiae in Boeotia who was known for “his beauty”. Greek goddess Nemesis noticed him and attracted Narcissus to a pool, where he saw his own reflection in the water and fell in love with it, not realising it was merely an image. Unable to leave the beauty of his reflection, Narcissus lost his will to live. He stared at his reflection until he died.
Today, we have become the narcissitics and the various social networking platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat etc are acting as the Goddess Nemesis. These apps attract us to the pool of reflection and leaving us feeling lost and wondering about the never ending world of ‘narcissim’. People forget to eat, drink and socialise pragmatically in their horde to attain the perfect selfie, thus leaving their personalities to meet the same end as Narcissus met.
This selfie trend would definitely not have found favour with the Greek philosopher, Plato. For him the real world is not the one we live in but the world of ideas, and things on this earth are only the poor copies or imitations of the ideal world. And he considered art and poetry imitation of an imitation and therefore of little value.
The philosopher Rene Descrates debunked the ‘Maya’ theory of reality by betting on his thought process: “I think, therefore I am.” If he could live in our times, he might have wanted to change his dictum to, “I click, therefore I exist.” Today people are so self- obsessed that the concept of plastic surgery has reduced many to tears and penury.
As Hamlet said, ‘God gave them one face, but they make themselves another’ to earn the the compliments of the looking glass. Some have come to grief because of dubious surgical procedure, in the process even losing their face in more than one sense. Believed to have undergone numerous plastic surgery sessions, singer Michael Jackson’s natural look is probably known by very few.
On the other hand we should never forget the power of images. Dictators such as Stalin and Mao had powerful portraits displayed in public places and halls to establish the fear of their suzerainty. Also, images are the layman’s tool of connecting with the history- for e.g, the various ancient period hand drawn images in the Ajanta and Ellora makes us realise about our rich past. In Berlin some of the most important buildings were destroyed by the allied air forces to avenge the loss. But the German government taking note of their rich heritage has now drawn stupendous images of the lost buildings in various vivid places of Berlin.
I would conclude by saying that the cultural tension between the ‘flash and display- all’ and ‘cover and conceal-all’ mentally is not likely to ease any time soon. Meanwhile, ‘dare-all, share-all and blare-all’ seems to be the ruling the credo today.
Imaan Singh Khara (UILS, PU Campus)
3rd Year, BALLB(Hons.), UILS, PU