I have a friend who takes the most amazing photographs. He somehow captures the very essence of people and moments, bottling the emotion within them so that others can taste it. I’ve always marveled at his ability. He once challenged himself to capture and post an image a day for a year, and though I can’t be certain, it’s safe to say there wasn’t a single selfie among them. He has invented lighting tools that didn’t exist, mounted cameras on the ceiling…his methods for capturing life from a fresh and interesting perspective are extraordinary. Simply put, Jim Stone turns his camera toward the world so that the rest of us can see it from his perspective.
There’s something pure and perfect about that. And these days, sadly, it has become so rare…even though we arguably have more photos circulating on more digital platforms than ever before.
At some point, most of us stopped looking at the world in favor of looking at ourselves or looking at photos of people looking at themselves. Kim Kardashian posts a nude selfie and we’re all flocking to social media to Tweet about it. Surgeons take a break in the middle of a procedure to snap a photo of themselves with the still mucus-covered infant. A man takes a selfie at the site of a fatal car crash. I once overheard a discussion between coworkers, one accusing the other of posting too many selfies on Facebook. His response? “It’s not like I post one every day. I post one, like, every three days.”
Our love of looking at ourselves has even led to the invention of the “selfie stick” or as I call it, the Narcisstick. Is there a single invention that has allowed us to look less at the world while more frequently celebrating and broadcasting our own appearance?
Our focus is off.
While we’re busy snapping selfies and Snap-Chatting, Instagramming, Tweeting, texting and Facebooking, we’re missing everything that is happening around us. Another unforgiving term I’ve coined – for people who are more immersed in their iPhones than real, analog life: iDiots. They’re sacrificing the experience of living for the experience of posing and posting.
A camera turned upon oneself is simply a mirror.
But a camera in the hands of someone curious about the world will capture art, regardless of whether you’re a professional, an amateur, or just a backpacker trying to preserve an experience so you can share it with others.
Put down the phones, iDiots. Set aside the Narcissticks. Log off the digital landscape and take in the hills and valleys and people around you. There is a whole planet to discover, and life is too short to sacrifice it at the altar of your own ego. That’s what it really boils down to. There is so much of the world to see, and I guarantee you, it’s more fascinating than looking at yourself.
He didn’t always make his living from photography, but Jim was always a photographer. I was so happy to learn that he now follows his lens for a living. I don’t see nearly enough of Jim, but I know what he looks like, and I’m infinitely more grateful to see the world through his unique perspective.
What do you think? Have selfies gone too far?
Charish Badzinski is an explorer, foodie and award-winning travel and food writer. When she isn’t working to build her blog: Rollerbag Goddess Rolls the World, she applies her worldview to her small business, providing strategic communications, media relations and writing support to individuals and organizations.
Find Charish on Twitter: @charishb
Rollerbag Goddess Rolls the World by Charish Badzinski is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.