There is something magical about waking up early on a Sunday morning and it is more than the idea of a work-free day . The best part is the discovery of the New York Times sitting, and might I add, impatiently waiting by the front door of my building provided that no newspaper thief had reached it before I could. (Note: I used to get the Ottawa Citizen stolen all the time but NYT remains untouched. Newspaper readers these days don’t even know what good journalism is – in this case, thank God!). The NYT on Sunday contains many sections I always look forward to reading, with the exception of .. you know.. the stocks and bonds section which, don’t get me wrong, is surely very enlightening but to a financial market amateur like myself just a bunch of gibberish and numbers I cannot comprehend.
In any case, my most favourite section is Sunday Review with plenty of opinion and analytical pieces on current events, latest discoveries, lifestyle advice, etc. In last weekend’s version, there was one article that really caught my attention because it touched on a phenomenon I thought I had my mind definitely made up on: the so-called “selphie” craze. I am generally fairly open-minded about self-images (from time to time I post them too) on FB or via Instagram as long as people don’t overdo it. And even overdoing it is a matter of one’s subjective perception so it is always open to much interpretation.
Given that my family lives in Europe while I am stationed in Ottawa for the time being, I have gotten into the habit of sending my parents ‘selfies’ and occasionally receive some from them in return. One of them arrived just a few days ago when my mom and dad were working in the garden and sent me a photo titled “apple picking” below which was the display of my dad standing on a ladder with a basket and a big grin on his face. A picture says a thousand words, or so they say, and in this case, the image did even more than that: it brought me closer to home and to those I hold dearest to my heart. The NYT opinion piece on ‘selfies’ pointed out an important feature of photographs: we react to a photo, a graphic, or an image more strongly than we do to written word. In other words, when browsing Facebook for instance, we are instinctively more drawn towards photos such as ‘selfies’ of our friends than their half-page long status describing what they got up to that day. The article also stood up for people who post selfies very often and are thus accused of being narcissistic. The author states that by posting a self-image in whatever situation one might find him/herself – standing on the glass floor of the CN Tower, smelling the tulips by the Rideau Canal, or tasting a gourmet meal – we can more easily connect and share with others and convey the emotions we are feeling in the given moment. It is simply about spreading a little bit of joy. Again, I am fairly neutral but 20 selfies a day might be a bit too much; even 10 or 5. Well, you get the idea.
The reason I found the article and issue it was addressing extremely topical was because just two days before I read it, I had received a selfie via text message – not from my dad, not from my mom, n0t from any relative, not even from a friend. To put things into a little bit more context without getting into too much detail (for everyone’s sake), here is the long story short. In May, I agreed to succumb to date invitations from a certain male I had met about 8 months prior. He cancelled the first date half an hour before we were supposed to meet and we rescheduled for an evening a few days later. Only, he never confirmed what time or where. So on that evening at about 9 o’clock when I was of course convinced the date was no longer happening, I got a text asking if I was still game for the date. When I responded that I hadn’t heard from him in two days and therefore assumed the date was off, he blamed me for not having contacted him to confirm. (PPPLEASE!!!) At this point, I was rather frustrated and let him know that I was not interested as he was clearly a flake.
Needless to say, last Friday evening (so almost 5 months after we last texted) I received a text message with a photo of him in front of a mirror (you know, ’cause it’s a selfie) with his doberman sitting next to him accompanied with “Hey, how’s it going? I am taking Duke out for a walk.”I know what you might be thinking – he accidentally texted the wrong person. But he didn’t – I was the target audience of this – hmm, how shall I put it politely – rather UNWELCOME intrusion of my cell phone. I will call this incident “The ghost of morons past” inhabiting my new smartphone for a very brief period of time.
It is important to mention that this man is not on Facebook – why, I will never know, because it seems like the perfect venue for someone like him. Nevertheless, all the context aside, were we friends, or family, or even dating (God forbid!), the selfie text message would do exactly what NYT article said it was meant to do (at least most of the time) – share the love for one’s pet and simple joy of going for a nice autumn stroll (or however else you’d like to interpret it).
Inserting the context, however, makes it just a very weak attempt at relighting the spark that never existed in the first place.