By Susan Hoekstra
Niagara Falls is one of my happy places. Strolling on the meandering trails of the park on the American side of the Falls, I could hear and sense the rushing water. Humbled and awestruck, I stepped closer to the water’s edge, my heart pounding in anticipation. With the sounds of the Falls as my backdrop, I heard every kind of language imaginable as hundreds of international tourists lined up at the railings with backpacks, strollers, cameras, and phones. So many people, so many cameras, is there a spot for me? And then, there they were. Not one, not two, but what looked like hundreds of the latest tech gadget. Selfie sticks.
Our Need to Be Noticed
Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy technology and a gadget or two. After all, technology encourages brand new ways of interacting with each other, allowing us to communicate around the world. I admit to loving my phone’s camera and recording videos but nothing quite impressed me like the idea of taking selfies, and now, selfie sticks. What happened to enjoying the moment without having to record it? Why such need for self-promotion? Is technology satisfying our need to be noticed?
It starts with a baby’s cry. Toddlers seek it through temper tantrums. Teenagers with rebellious overtones and skimpy outfits. Twenty-somethings with budding accomplishments. As we mature, we may not acknowledge our need to be noticed because we don’t want to appear self-centered. Instead, we develop more sophisticated communication and negotiation skills to get noticed. Or do we?
Recently, a study was completed regarding the underlying motives behind selfie posts. Scholars agreed that two distinct types of personalities emerge in the name of self-promotion. First, are narcissists who desire attention and love the entertainment factor. Second, are individuals with appropriate self-esteem who take pictures for archival and communication reasons. In the quest to be noticed, where do you fall?
Our Underlying Need
Posting items with the motive of self-promotion can also have damaging effects, breeding envy. Psychologist Tod Kashdan from George Mason University describes what happens when we look at posts. “They’re hearing all these great things happening from other people and they’re making a downward comparison to themselves. They’re viewing themselves as ‘My life isn’t as interesting or satisfying as other people’s lives look like,’” he explained.
Our culture is increasingly obsessed with self. Pictures, posts, and counting how many likes or visits our posts receive is commonplace. Walk down the self-help aisle at a bookstore, and you will see this obsession ruminate. Could this obsession be an outcry of an underlying need we all have?
Craig Detweiler, an expert on faith and social media serving as president of the Seattle School of Theology and Psychology, states: “To me, so much of the crisis in our country and culture is rooted in issues of identity. People are feeling unseen, unacknowledged, and underrepresented. And they’re desperately crying out to be noticed, affirmed, and loved. I see selfies as rooted in our deepest hunger, our greatest longing.”
"just between us"
Articles, Topics and Blogs from "just between us" Christian Magazine & Ministry http://www.justbetweenus.org/