‘This younger generation is so self obsessed, want proof of it, just look at how many selfies they take.’
I’ve heard this statement or similar ones hundreds of times, but I ask you is it really self obsessed? Do they really stand around with their phone in hand, studying their face and attempting to get the best shot of their facial features because they are so in love with what they see, or perhaps is it more simple. An agenda hidden so deep in their psyche so that even they don’t realize it’s there.
Could they be just making the statement ‘I was here. I did these things, and I was fabulous!’
As the child of a mother that loathes having her picture taken, I mourn the lack of photographic documentation of a piece of my life. My mother has no great love for photographs while for me they are sacred, a way of documenting a family’s history.
We don’t have a lot of photographs documenting our lives, and the few we have are scattered around, stored in boxes that are stashed in places that only my Mom knows the locations of.
I can sit down with my children and all of our photographs and tell them all the stories that go along with them. I can pass along the knowledge of who the people in those photos were, so that they can truly know them.
I have no photographs or very little photographs of both of my parents families. My paternal grandfather died while I was still young, and as the oldest child I’m really the only one of us three siblings that really had a chance to know him, but his image is blurred and faded in my brain. I remember my maternal grandfather, and his image is burned into my head. A young man with black hair, a barrel chest and a proud visage standing surrounded by his three young daughters and his wife standing by his side in front of an old stone building. Or perhaps the image of a graying man with the same barrel chest, a careworn face standing on a beach in front of a black cannon that his three grandchildren are straddling and his wife, my grandmother standing behind the barrel, their three grand-kids between them.
I see his face clearly because I have the photos to refresh my memory. Just as my children can look at my photographs and see images of myself and their father when we were younger. They can know us as the people we were before our children came into our lives.
Perhaps if my grandparents and even myself had the opportunity to take selfies there would be even more photos to document the lives of my grandparents so that I could know them better. If my Mom would allow herself to be photographed my children would be able to know her as a young woman, instead of just as their grandmother. Don’t get me wrong, there are photos of my Mom but none of them are very flattering because we have to catch her by surprise so many of them have her wearing a horrified expression or they are blurred out because she tried to duck and run when she saw the camera. That is the way my children and their own children will know her.
But the descendants of this ‘selfie generation‘ won’t have that issue. They’ll have every day, sometimes hourly photographic evidence that their loved ones had lives that were full and rich and that they were more than just the parents or grandparents that they will know them as.
So don’t mock a millennial for taking that selfie, instead mourn that you are interested enough in sharing who you and what you love with future generations to come.