02.29.16

A Selfie-Obsessed Generation by Kolby Milton

youthministrymedia.ca

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU TOOK A SELFIE?

Okay, I’ll be honest—the last time I took one was last night. I was at youth group, and I wanted to get a picture with my small group of students. People are obsessed with taking pictures of themselves. It’s crazy! Think about it: how many photos in your Instagram feed have your face in them?

When we talk about idols today, one of the big ones this generation is facing is narcissism. It’s all about us. I recently read about how Kim Kardashian photoshopped her Instagram photos. It’s not surprising when we live in a culture that’s so image-obsessed.

A woman named Essena O’Neill quit Instagram claiming that nothing was real about her account. She states in this article in THE GUARDIAN: “Yet I, myself, was consumed by it. This was the reason why I quit social media: for me, personally, it consumed me. I wasn’t living in a 3D world.” Of her FIRST-EVER POST, a selfie that now has close to 2,500 likes, she said: “I remember I obsessively checked the like count for a full week since uploading it. It got 5 likes. This was when I was so hungry for social media validation . . . Now marks the day I quit all social media and focus on real life projects.”

There’s an idolatry associated with social media. What’s the image we’re putting out there? What are we trying to receive from it? Some of the students I work with understand that they could make a ton of money from Instagram if they leverage it right. There’s a thing about being “insta” famous.

The infographic from RAWHIDE.ORG called “Selfie Obsession: The Rise of Social Media Narcissism” is timely.

Here are few things that stand out:

  1. Every year, teens spend the equivalent of seven working days taking selfies. This is crazy!
  2. Traits of selfie-obsessed teens are over-friending and self-promotion. When was the last time you unfriended people? I try to do it every two months. I can’t keep up with my friends at my church, so why would I think having more than 500 friends on Facebook would help build relationships? (With that said, I have built some awesome friendships online, and last year I was able to hang out with a few of those awesome people.) There are warning signs of people who are complete narcissists. If you see any of these signs, you should address it. Our students shouldn’t feel as if their worth is based on the number of likes they have. You are not your likes on social media.
  3. The three Rs of selfie-control: reduce, rethink, reflect. These are gold. I‘ve been saying for years that if your social media accounts aren’t fostering real relationships, then why have them? Everything we do should be leading us to face-to-face conversations—otherwise it really isn’t necessary.

As a youth worker, you probably see this all the time. You might even see other youth workers struggle with a selfie addition. I wonder how we can point people back to the gospel and how we can teach others that our worth isn’t based on something—it’s based on someone: Jesus. This is powerful knowledge for a teenager drowning in a selfish culture.

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