In defense of the selfie

Yet here, as in so many other places, we have let our fears detach from reality—even more than our selfies have detached from it. Calm down and reacquaint yourself with the myth of Narcissus. He was a gorgeous hunter. If you think that sounds like the profile of a pretty naïve dude, you’re correct: When he first spied himself in his watery reflection, he didn’t realize he was seeing just an image. He thought there was a real person there in the mirror—because, of course, he didn’t create his reflection. And how could he see himself if he didn’t create his reflection?

Reflect on selfies, and they seem totally different. Rather than plunging us into innocent love with an apparent stranger, they beam our conscious self-regard back at ourselves. At first glance, this makes us seem even worse than Narcissus. Selfies seem less like love at first sight and more like yet another round of masturbation.

Yet what is it we see when we look back at ourselves again and again? Have you tried staring in the mirror for five minutes? (I have.) Try it. It’s like staring into a stranger’s eyes…much in the way that staring into a stranger’s eyes, nose to nose, quickly becomes strangely similar to staring into…your own.