Monday, October 13, 2014

Nothing New Under the Sun

I'm sure you've heard of a "selfie." It's impossible for you to not know what one is. Everyone is using their phones these days to take pictures of themselves and share them with the world on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Old School Selfie by Vincent van Gogh
Some people think that our obsession with selfies is proof of our culture's immanent demise and our collective moral bankruptcy. Or they are just annoying.

But let's take a minute to think about this. Are selfies really anything new? Were they invented only after the iPhone got a front-facing camera in 2010? Hardly.

They're nothing more than self-portraits. And those have been around for as long as people have had a reflection and something with which to draw. People have always been self-absorbed and narcissistic. You just get access to more of them now, thanks to social networking.

Vincent van Gogh painted himself 37 times between 1886 and 1889. He spent a great deal of time on those. That's like the equivalent of taking 87.3 selfies per day with our modern technology. Be thankful you weren't on that guy's friends list. He painted himself with a bandage on his head after cutting off his own ear, and then probably carted that canvas over to everyone's house to ask them if they liked it. He needed some attention. I'm sure you have people like that in your life.

So the next time you are tempted to complain about all the terrible and annoying things people do nowadays, just take a step back and consider that the things people are doing today are probably just minor updates to the terrible and annoying things people have done since the dawn of time.

Amphibian.com comic for 13 October 2014