Let’s face it, you can’t be in a public space for two minutes without witnessing someone striking a well-rehearsed, come-hither stare and snapping a picture of herself. Not here in Manila anyway. Key in “celebrity selfies,” and Google spits out an array of familiar personalities in varying states of undress, faces and bodies angled this way and that, seducing an imaginary audience.
You know what I’m talking about. The arm extended way out, the smartphone that may or may not be part of the composition, the pout, the downturned chin and the upturned gaze, the adolescent pop star’s feigned surprise as he Instagrams himself, capturing a moment manufactured exclusively for capture. The instantaneous self-portrait has become the new normal. The artist’s muse is his six-pack; the curator curates her own cleavage.
Outlets for narcissism and vanity have always existed, but the Digital Age has provided everyone the means to go gangbusters on the obsessive documentation and immediate broadcast of one’s corporeal self. Not only has this form of self-absorbed self-expression become acceptable, but not embracing it leaves one feeling like a throwback to a darker age when people still licked stamps.
Maybe we all just want approval and validation in the easiest way we can get it. Maybe we just want some measure of control over how we’re seen by others. Or maybe we’re bored and just want to make like a supermodel. But when forced to look at selfies, I feel like that poor soul cornered by someone who won’t stop talking about his bathroom habits. Nothing morally or ethically wrong with unabashed oversharing, but personally, I would much rather be licking stamps.