The headline caught my attention. The article featured a teenage girl who made—and kept—her 2010 resolution to take one picture every day and post it on Facebook. I wanted to see what she had to “say” through her photos and what she discovered along the way.
Her pictures were interesting. They explored lighting and experimented with technique. Then I noticed something odd. The photographer featured herself in every picture. Every one.
I nudged my husband, who was lost in the sports section, “Look at this. She’s the topic of every photo. In one year you’d think she would’ve looked past herself to view the world around her? That’s what’s wrong with this generation! They’re so in love with themselves!”
In reality teenagers have long been self-absorbed and narcissistic (recall the poster child, Narcissus). Psychologists say it’s developmental. But in the “good old days” us teens wrote in our diaries, expressed ourselves on our bedroom walls and talked on the phone with our best friends for hours. Our self-absorption just wasn’t available for public consumption.
Now in the age of Facebook, Twitter, blogs and such, navel gazing (omphaloskepsis as it’s formally called) has gone digital. A ready audience—literally the entire world—awaits, and no thought is too personal or too mundane to share.
And it’s not just young people. Forty-five percent of Facebook’s 45 million active users in the U.S. is 26 years old or older; women over 55 represent one of its fastest growing segments. In 2009 there were over 200,000,000 blogs (yes, million), and there are even more today. The number of Twitter users is growing exponentially.
“Look at me!” we proclaim loudly and frequently. (Yes, I know I've done plenty of navel-gazing on these very pages.)
Yet, in this status-updating, tweeting, blogging, posting, wall-writing frenzy has our quest for self-expression/-exploration/-promotion/-adoration rebirthed our inner teenager? Have we become a culture of attention-seekers in love with our reflection?
As if reading my thoughts, on Sunday our pastor preached, “One of Satan’s greatest tricks is not only to put up a wall between you and God, but to put a mirror on your side of the wall—to get you to look at yourself.” Wow! We've been making the enemy's job really easy!
Our pastor continued, “Humility means smashing that mirror and looking to the One you’re following—which is Jesus.”
Humility? Now there’s an outdated concept. In our culture it’s hard to even know what humility means…or looks like. Yet, as Jesus-followers our ongoing challenge is to live in the world, but not of the world. So we need to figure it out.
In the end, I can read the papers, observe the world and offer commentary on it all, but it really comes down to me and God—and my own mirror. Will I proudly gaze with fondness on my own glory or will I humbly turn the mirror to magnify His?
At the end of the year, will it be 365 Days of Me? Or 365 Days of Thee?
What’s your choice?
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice…Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind… Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment…” (Romans 12:1-3)