Social media site Twitter recently declared 2014 as the “Year of the Selfie”. Less than a year earlier, “selfie” was named Oxford Dictionary’s Word of the Year for 2013. And there is now discussion that when linguists gather later this month for the annual meeting of the American Dialect Society, they may vote “selfie stick” as the 2014 Word of the Year. There seems to be no end in sight to the viral growth of the selfie.
But what ever happened to the “othersie”?
What’s an “othersie”? It’s what happens when you turn the camera the other way. It’s what you get when you point the camera the direction it was intended to be pointed – at others – not constantly at yourself.
Perhaps the viral growth of the selfie is a sign of something we see taking place in the world: Excessive focus on self.
We live in a world where success and achievement seem to be determined by how many “LIKES” or “FOLLOWERS” one has on social media. Self-promotion overshadows service to others.
There’s nothing wrong with an occasional self-indulgence. After all, if you don’t take care of yourself, it’s difficult to take care of others. But the societal pendulum has swung too far to the “self” side, while the “others” side seems to be receiving less and less attention–not only on social media, but on social issues as well (such as poverty, homelessness, hunger, and just plain old loving your neighbor).
So, what’s the solution? Perhaps the age-old counsel given by a selfless man who walked the earth 2000 years ago: “Love thy neighbor as thyself.”
Or in today’s terms: Love thy neighbor as thy “selfie”.
There are many who have taken heed. Take Scott Neeson, for example, the former Hollywood executive who left a lucrative career, sold his possessions, and moved across the world to save children and families in Cambodia. He knew his neighbors extended beyond his own Beverly Hills neighborhood. Now, ten years later, he runs the Cambodian Children’s Fund, which provides life-changing education, nourishment and healing to vulnerable children in some of Cambodia’s most destitute areas. Over 2,000 students and 10,000 people are cared for annually.
Scott’s example is inspiring and extraordinary. However, not everyone can go to such extremes. So how about the elderly neighbor right next door who needs daily help, yet has no family members close by? Or the person who just needs someone to talk to? They’re all around us. There are plenty of people right in our own backyard who could use attention.
In this age of the never-ending posting of “selfies”, we can all do better.
We can turn the camera the other way, not only literally, but also figuratively – by putting the focus on others. Promotion of others can exceed promotion of self. Serving of others can exceed serving self.
As neighbors. As friends. As people who put others above self.
This isn’t about creating a new hashtag or watching a new phrase go viral. It’s about action. Whether you say “othersie” or “unselfish”, “service” or “love”, it’s the deeds that count. It’s the doing of it – not the saying of it, the posting of it, or the tweeting of it.
The auto-correct feature on my word processing software says it best. When I try to type, “selfies”, it auto-corrects to “selfless”.
For 2015, let’s all work together to be more selfless. Let’s love our neighbors as our selfies.