How a “Selfie” Culture Can Lead to a Selfish Life

Selfie Culture“Many people are unhappy and are not experiencing life to its fullest because they’ve closed their hearts to compassion, they are motivated by only what they want and what they think they need. They rarely do anything for anybody else unless they have an ulterior goal in mind. They are self-involved and self-centered.” ~Joel Osteen

“A man wrapped up in himself makes a very small parcel.” ~John Ruskin

“As long as we live, our self-absorption and our insecurity will walk together, holding hands and swinging them back and forth like two little girls on their way to a pretend playground they can never find. Human nature dictates that most often we will be as insecure as we are self-absorbed. The best possible way to keep from getting sucked into the superficial narcissistic mentality that money, possessions, and sensuality can satisfy and secure us is to deliberately give ourselves to something much greater. Jesus showed us that giving, rather than getting, is the means to receiving: to find yourself, your true self, you must lose yourself in something larger.” ~Beth Moore

Have we become a culture of “selfies”?

One of my pastors, Pastor Pete Wilson, started a new series at Cross Point Church this past Sunday called “Sabotage,” which over the next few weeks, will break down several behaviors that sabotage our relationships. The first two weeks are on the subject of pride – and how many, like me, can testify to the fact that pride is, in fact, a MAJOR relationship killer? I literally wanted to stand up and holler as I watched church online on Sunday, that’s how good this message was. It’s so relevant to the culture we’re living in at this very moment, a culture I’ve dubbed “the selfie culture.” Why do I call it that? Because where we once turned our camera lens outward to shoot the world around us: vacations, friends and family, birthday parties, milestones; today it seems the focus is turned inward on ourselves, resulting in an endless parade of “selfies” and just sort of a generalized overall cultural selfishness. From our TV screens to our Facebook timelines to the magazines and newspapers we read each week, it seems everyone around us is screaming: “Look at me! Notice me! Validate me!” Perhaps no one so much as the beautiful young ladies in today’s music world who instead of stripping down their vocals, are stripping off their clothes to get attention, to assert their “independence,” to prove themselves, to feel loved and admired and respected. In my opinion, though this current “attention seeking” trend that seems to be rampant in our culture is often viewed as narcissistic or prideful…I think it’s all rooted in insecurity. The need to show people how important we are. The need to brag about how great our lives are because on the inside, we fear that they’re not that great at all. And I’m not speaking AT you on this one, friends. I’m speaking with you. I will humbly confess before you all right now that there have been times when I have posted something on my Facebook or Twitter or Instagram feed for no other reason than because it made me feel important or special. And that was rooted in my own pride and insecurity.

But I don’t want to do that anymore. I want to be different. I want to be better.

Part of Pastor Pete’s message on Sunday talked about how Jesus, arguably the most powerful figure in all of history, came to earth not as a king or a ruler or a god but as a HUMAN. And the center of Jesus’ message was all about the last becoming first, the weak becoming strong, the least of these becoming the greatest of these and so on and so forth. And though Jesus might be controversial and might not be mutually agreed upon by all humans to be the messiah, or even God’s son at all, he was still so important, his birth split time IN HALF. So whether you think (like I do) that Jesus IS and WAS God’s son, and is our Lord and Savior, or not…you still have to admit that he is pretty VIP when it comes to historical figures. And yet…yet…he humbled himself to be born human. A human who sweat and smelled and had to go to the bathroom and had to blow his nose and got sick and got sleepy and got frustrated and got food stuck in his teeth. So if JESUS could humble himself in all of the many ways that he did in order to reach mankind…who are we to think that we are too good or too important or too “VIP” to humble ourselves? Who are we to think we deserve first place, or top billing, or accolades, or pats on the back, or recognition? What if, as a culture, we stopped pursuing recognition and started pursuing greatness instead? What if we stopped seeking happiness and started seeking to make others happy instead? What if we stopped chasing love and attention and started recklessly giving love and attention to others instead? What if, instead of always trying to claim the #1 spot and the bestseller and the front row seat in church, we helped others find the bestseller inside THEM? And stepped outta the way and let others have the front row seat and the #1 spot and their moment in the spotlight to shine? I’d venture to say we might just shake this planet to its very core.

Pete’s message made me want to do better. It challenged me like I haven’t been challenged in a long time. So what are some practical ways I’m going to take what I learned from the message and put them to work in my own life?

  • For the month of September, I’m only praying for other people, not myself. Obviously this doesn’t mean I’m not praising God for what he’s doing in my life and asking him for forgiveness when I mess up – but instead of driving him crazy with endless requests for my own life, I’m interceding for other people instead. My friends, family, pastors, Twitter followers, readers, the nation, the planet – it’s amazing how many people you can pray for when you take the focus off YOU. (As a side note, I have to mention  that literally as I sit here writing this, I stopped for a moment to check my Twitter mentions to find one of my followers asking me out of the blue if there is anything she could pray about for me. How amazing is that? What you do for others is what God will do for you!)
  • I’m checking my motivations when it comes to social media posts. Am I posting anything out of pride and vain conceit? If so, I’m not posting it. I want to edify and build up…not endlessly brag and make people feel like their lives don’t measure up to mine. I think you’ll find that if you start checking your motives before everything you put out there into the social media universe, you’ll probably decide not to post it at least half the time.
  • I want to put others ahead of me. I don’t want to race to the Starbucks counter before the girl beside me can beat me to it (Yes, I’ve actually done this.) I don’t want to knock people out of my way to claim the front pew at church (Not that I’ve ever done this, but you get the point.) I don’t want to do anything to call attention to me or how “great” I am. I want to simply go about my life as a writer who inspires single women and make THAT my focus, not the accolades that come as a result of the work that I do.

Whether your spiritual beliefs are the same as mine or not, I urge you to consider turning the camera lens off your life for awhile and focusing it back on other people. The beautiful color and light and messiness of the world around you is where your REAL purpose will be found. Not in the mirror. Not in the reflection of your perfect appearance, with every hair in place…but in the trenches of life: Loving and hugging and crying and living and hurting and trying and winning and failing.

Because here’s what I’m learning: Nothing but selfies makes for a very boring photo album. And nothing but selfishness makes for a very static, mediocre, meaningless life.

Do you think we’re in a “selfie” culture? In what ways you like to make some changes in your own life to be more focused on other people and less focused on you? Comment below!

18 Responses to “ How a “Selfie” Culture Can Lead to a Selfish Life ”

  1. September 9, 2013

    Great blog! I agree.

  2. Danielle
    September 9, 2013

    Yes, I agree with you that society is selfish . Some people don’t care about anyone but themselves. However, I don’t necessarily think it’s wrong to brag once in a while. Boast your accomplishments! If you’re feeling good about yourself, post that selfie! Sing it from the rooftops! Sometimes, at least for me, these things show that you are a confident woman. Not that I need anyone necessarily to comment on them to validate my feelings of worth…I just want to share how I’m feeling (or how I’m looking.). It’s when we are CONSTANTLY barraging people with our “Look at me!” posts that things can get dangerous. But I don’t think doing it once in a while is harmful.

    • Erica
      September 23, 2013

      You should never boast about your accomplishments because when you do so you’re putting the credit on yourself instead of on God. The credit is supposed to go to him because without him you could not have done it.

  3. September 9, 2013

    LOVE this post. So timely for me too! And I love that you’re making it a goal to pray for others in September – I will join you in that goal, as well. 🙂

  4. Janice B
    September 9, 2013

    This is such a great reminder! I love the September goals also, especially purposely praying only for others. I’ve also been focusing on only posting items on social media that is of positive and of a non-selfish nature for the past couple of months…..and my feed/homepage has been mostly blank or shared positive articles (like this), and I’m ok with that! Keep us the encouraging work Mandy!

  5. Jessica Sanders
    September 9, 2013

    I love this blog post! My favorite quote is( Nothing but selfies makes for a very boring photo album. And nothing but selfishness makes for a very static, mediocre, meaningless life.) Humbling blog post.

  6. Keke
    September 9, 2013

    Omg, looovvveeddd this…it is true, everyone seems to make things all about them nowadays rarely thinking of others. I’m guilty of some of that behavior and have to work at not allowing other people selfish behavior change me. Yes, prayer is very needed and requested for me. Thanks for praying for me…as I will pray for you…what the Bible instruct us to do 🙂

  7. eni
    September 9, 2013

    ***sobbing***. Didn’t realize how selfish I was till I read this post. I keep things to myself, I hold back when should just let go. So selfish to give love because, “I” don’t wanna get hurt. All I have succeeded in doing is pushing love from my life. Decision: I would love hard. It’s not about me anymore. So what if “I” don’t get it in return? At least I would have given. Thank you.
    With Love.

  8. September 9, 2013

    Wow! This is the article that every netizens must read all around the world. I was awaken by this article. Truly, we are in a selfie generation now, the culture imprisoned the human mind for us to become self-minded, insecure, and be more materialistic —and that is a very sad reality nowadays. Good to know that Ms. Mandy included Jesus in this issue. We are reminded in this thing; instead of tolerating ourselves to selfie things?? Why we must focus on sharing our blessings/motivations/strengths to those who are in need without expecting any in return. Spread the LOVE and CARE in different ways we can rather than extravagantly exposing our selfie photos to the whole world just to seek attention and temporary fame?

  9. tobie
    September 10, 2013

    This is a powerful post Mandy for I too have been caught up in this selfie culture… Its not about me Wether I believe it or not, its high time I get off my high horse and come down to earth. Had to go back to the scriptures to re-enforce this message in my heart. Math 20:20-28, Phil2:1-11

  10. September 10, 2013

    So well said!! I never even crossed my mine to apply these principles to social media.

  11. lina
    September 10, 2013

    I identify with some of the things you said in your post. The way to a turnaround from this ‘selfie culture’ is pray for friends,family,church&nation to receive salvation. Jesus is the only way.

  12. Krystle
    September 10, 2013

    I started the challenge I never realised how often I pray for myself from the morning to the evening I wake up and ask God that it will be a good day, that I will get to university safely , that I will complete my quota so I can graduate and to do well in tests ect… and its all about me … Its been hard not to pray for some of the things cause I just pray for it outta habit eg: praying for safe travels to university. But the challenge has made me more aware of the ppl around me and their needs and I think its a very difficult challenge bt a great one too!! I hope that I am able to be a blessing for the people I’m praying for if they know it or not! Btw love your blog 🙂

  13. brenda
    September 10, 2013

    Mandy I love this blog post! I’m in Nigeria,how do I get your book?

  14. […] read a write up “How a Selfie Culture can lead to a selfish life” by The Single Woman on twitter which sums up a part of the space I’m in. She described […]

  15. September 10, 2013

    great message!! this is something that i recently confessed about being self-centered and not Christ-Centered. Thank God for his grace and mercy that I am able to own up to it recognize and change it for the good!! I realized that its not about me and God has called me to be of help to others and to spread his good news NOT be self-centered.

  16. faith
    September 10, 2013

    Am humbled by this challenge of being selfless – hw many times do we sit back and think bout the homeless,helpless,hopeless,the neglected,the unloved,downtroden? If only we can learn that w r here to reach out, to love no matter the returns this world would b a better place. Thanx fr the challenge of praying fr others am on the clock too.

  17. Nina
    September 26, 2013

    Mandy, your blog is amazing and so inspiring!! I recently deleted Facebook and Instagram- I was starting to feel like both forms of social media were negative pieces in my life. Thank you for your inspiring words and all the love you put out for us single ladies! <3

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Life doesn’t always look the way we want it to look. In Mandy’s upcoming book, Turn Toward the Sun: Releasing What If and Embracing What Is, you’ll find encouragement to live in the moment, sit with your experiences, and trust God with the unknown.
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Something wonderful is on the horizon
Turn Toward the Sun CoverLife doesn’t always look the way we want it to look. In Mandy’s upcoming book, Turn Toward the Sun: Releasing What If and Embracing What Is, you’ll find encouragement to live in the moment, sit with your experiences, and trust God with the unknown.
Preorder from Baker Book House for 40% off and free shipping!*
*US shipping only