A little Selfie Conscious

I’ve always been camera shy. I’m not particularly confrontational, so coming face-to-face with me, myself, and I is usually doomed to end badly. As soon as the shutter clicks, my inner voice is screaming, “Oh no, that’s awful. Delete it before anyone sees it!”

Don’t get me wrong, my ego is big enough to accommodate the prospect of a likeable likeness, at some point down the road. A likeness that conforms to the way I feel on a good day. A portrayal of myself that I carry around, as most of us do, already framed and mounted in the perfect spot, on a wall papered with imagination.
The way we see ourselves can, perhaps, be equated with the way we hear ourselves. Anyone who’s had free rein with a tape recorder knows, the familiar voice that we use without thinking can suddenly turn on us and send us into a state of disbelief and non-acceptance. That with which we communicate automatically, express ourselves confidently and without hesitation. The voice that is such a large part of us, can sound alien and detached. Unrepresentative of ourselves in tones that have fled the resonating chambers, only to come back at us naked but for discreet digital disguise or a loosely woven analogue array.
But this post was meant to be about photos. Photos of me, a man who’s more selfie conscious than it’s healthy to be, given his love affair with social media. I mean, everyone’s expected to show up, right? Strike a pose, and keep striking until you get a crick in your neck. No pain, no gain, in search of the perfect profile pic. But perhaps it’s all in the language. Because avatar says something quite different to me. I find the idea of producing an icon, an embodiment, a manifestation, far more appealing.
In the past, I’ve used photos of my younger self. I’ve also used photos of my older self, but only after they’ve been through the magic mincer, and steeped in layers of clever effects.
A friend who often reminds me I should smile more often in front of the lens, remarked on a photo of me and Mags, recently taken by No.1 twin granddaughter. She said she refers to such photos, affectionately, as the “kids’ angle”. We’re rather taken with it. Even if it has been suggested – with some justification – that we are reminiscent of Grant Wood’s ‘American Gothic’. What do you think?

6 thoughts on “A little Selfie Conscious

  1. That's a lovely photo – I can see you are a man of great presence and charisma, very nice.
    The selfie thing is strange for many of us, I think, who were brought up to believe that modesty was an admirable quality, and that self-obsession in any form was somewhat vulgar; we were told never to “show off”. Now it just seems to be the norm, to promote oneself, to share everything you do and have achieved but most of all, NOT to feel embarrassed about it. I've come around to it in increments – work requires a degree of self-publicity, photos are requested for websites, and in blogging I rather like the sense of connecting with contacts more candidly by at least showing my face on occasion. But still, even though I've entered into to it to some degree, I feel a certain old-fashioned discomfort and lack of modesty!
    As for the voice – you are so right! Voices, body language, and funny little habits, all those things that makes us who were are, seem alien when viewed/heard from outside – enough to make you cringe. How do those fame wannabes on reality TV series cope?!


  2. I am very nervous around the young these days – the young who always have their phones out, ready to take a picture without warning and lob it up on Facebook without my say-so!! I think the Victorians had it about right: carefully-composed pictures for which you sat still and arranged yourself for the purpose (except that didn't some Victorians take pictures of dead relatives and super-impose them onto family photos? Maybe not that ..)


  3. I think those warnings, not to “show off”, probably went deeper than some of us imagined. And, yes, I often wonder how these wannabes get through it all without doing themselves some kind of emotional damage. There's much talk these days, about the fear of failure. I think I might have a fear of success. Imagine finding fame, and then having to undertake various commitments and obligations. Public speaking, etc, etc. I was once 'guest of the day' on a popular regional radio show. I rather enjoyed the experience, and asked my wife to record it for me. Oh dear, I still have the recording, and can't bear to listen to it.


  4. Oh, those crazy death-obsessed Victorians! Actually, I believe the photographs you refer to, actually had corpses in the mix. They weren't superimposed. There's a website, somewhere…hang on. Oh, you're gone.


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