The other day I saw a news report declaring 2014, “The Year of the ‘Selfie’” – the fascination so many people have developed for taking photos of themselves in different settings with their smartphones.
Sure, it’s fun to go to a nice place on vacation and take a “selfie” in front of some well-known sight, but people these days are going to extraordinary lengths to put themselves into the picture. At the Tour de France, for instance, spectators jogged just ahead of the competing bikers, arms extended and smartphones angled strategically to prove to all the world, “That’s me. I was there!”
I wouldn’t be surprised to learn about someone taking a “selfie” in Pamplona, Spain while racing to stay a step or two ahead of the charging bulls.
You don’t even need to be holding the cell phone. People “photo-bomb” by popping into the mix when photographs are being taken of others, at events ranging from weddings (“See, that’s me with the bride and groom”) to awards ceremonies (“Can you believe that’s me there with DiCaprio?”)
Years ago we heard a lot about the “Me Generation.” We’ve become so me-conscious we don’t even need to use that phrase anymore. It’s assumed. And thanks to the wonders of technology and portability of smartphones, we have ever-improving ways for declaring to the world, “it’s all about me!”
“Me, me, me” is being repeated so often it sounds like the vocal warm-up session preceding an opera or vocal concert.
I’m not stumping for all-out altruism or iron-clad vows of self-denial. No need to get extreme. Not that there’s any real danger of an epidemic of selflessness, anyway. But wouldn’t it be nice to see more people demonstrating more awareness of persons other than “me, myself and I”?
Reading the Bible, it seems evident God isn’t a “selfie” fan. “Unselfish” is the word He’d rather His people emulate. As it states in Philippians 2:3-4, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
Maybe one reason Jesus Christ came during the time in human history that He did, rather than in the 21st century, is He didn’t want people flocking to take “selfies with Jesus” and then post them on social media. Quite to the contrary, He instructed His followers, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).
But this isn’t easy, especially in a society that in one way or another constantly insists we must “look out for No. 1.” So how do we overcome this tendency? Is there an antidote for all this “me-ism”? Let me offer a few suggestions:
• Perform an act of kindness – or more than one – for people that can’t possibly repay you. That way you don’t have to examine yourself as much for ulterior motives.
• Find a local organization or project you believe in and volunteer your time and talents to help advance its mission and help those that will benefit. How about tutoring, mentoring, or working in a soup kitchen?
• Contribute to a charity or non-profit that provides services to meet urgent needs. And if you’re already contributing, give more – or find additional causes to support.
• Do something special for a neighbor, even if you don’t know them well. And try to do it anonymously so you won’t be doing it to gain an expression of gratitude or receive a similar gesture in return.
If you do any, or all, of these you might discover Jesus was right when He said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). And you’ll begin to understand why.
* * *
Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, a former newspaper editor and magazine editor. He is presently vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit focused on mentoring and coaching business and professional leaders. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and has authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” “Business at Its Best,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. He also posts regularly on two blogs, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com, and www.bobtamasy.wordpress.com. He can be emailed at email@example.com.