A friend of mine spent a good deal of time trying to explain to me why he didn’t like the selfies I post. He packaged it as a cultural analysis of sorts: it was reflective of bad parenting, a self-centered culture, and a litany of other negative things. I just know he’s going to hate this one I posted yesterday:
This compares to my latest selfie from Wendy’s side of the family, a reunion we threw together to celebrate a number of things, particularly the visit of my daughter Alissa from Australia, pictured in the center with her husband. Last night was a similar party with my side of the family. It is the first time in four years since all of my parents children (my three sisters and me) got together. We’re celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary this afternoon.
I think of my friend every time I post a new selfie. I just know I’m going to upset him again. I am looking forward to posting more of them on my Facebook profile today, and he’s going to get so wound up his shorts are going to break his hip.
Here’s what I suspect is really bothering my friend: he knows my real pains.
He is suspicious of the smiles and the joy and the awesome feelings of everyone in the picture. It’s not just my selfies, but anyone’s selfies he comes into contact with. To him, they’re all hiding the truth. “Cut the crap,” is what he would say, and he would continue to exposit a cultural critique of how such “crap” is reflective of a culture of self-centeredness.
His solution? Line everyone up and say “cheese.”
Allow me to cut through the crap for a moment and tell you about the picture above. It was taken after a prayer. We held hands around the kitchen island as my dad expressed thanks to God for the blessing of being together. No one shared the reality of our losses — and there are plenty of them — but the reality of the exact opposite, that which we have. No one attempted to fix all our problems before we came together in prayer. We were all fine with not having them all solved. We were thankful anyway.
Don’t wait till you’re happy to take your selfie. Do it now in spite of your pain.
On “amen,” I took advantage of the opportunity and said, “Hey! Let’s take a selfie!” Some expressed doubt that we could actually squeeze together for the small phone lens, but we did it. We squeezed in, smiled, and laughed and laughed and laughed. I suspect that we’ll do more selfies throughout the week together, and I’ll post the best ones.
There may be a thread of truth in my friend’s critique of selfies, but he’s hearing an imaginary claim that no one is claiming: that we are always happy, always smiling, always cheesy. No one is saying that. We’re simply taking advantage of the moment in time when we are, and that is a joyous moment to capture in time.
Perhaps there is something to say about our cultural addiction to create a fake self, but for me and my family, it is an expression of joy and happiness despite the sadness and trials of life. That’s where we are right now, and we’re quite happy about it.