I, Me, and Myself

There is a story from Greek Mythology about a young hunter called Narcissus.  He was the son of  a river-god named Cephissus and a nymph named Liriope. He was known far and wide for his beauty.

Many loved Narcissus, but he returned the love of none. He was proud and vain and thought that there was no one worthy of him.

As he was walking in the forest, Echo, a lovely mountain nymph saw him and immediately fell in love with him. But he did not return her love and rejected her.

She was heartbroken and wandered dejectedly until she faded away. Finally, only an echo of her was left.

Narcissus-Caravaggio_(1594-96)_edited

Nemesis, the goddess of revenge was angered after hearing of Echo’s fate and decided to punish Narcissus.

 

 

 

She lured him to a pool where he saw his own reflection.  Not realizing that it was his own reflection that entranced him, he fell in love with it. He was unable to leave, but grew frustrated when his love was not returned.

Eventually he died of grief. His body disappeared and on that spot grew a flower.

.

Today is the age of “Selfies”.

I am reminded of the story of Narcissus when I see someone clicking a “selfie”.

Anywhere we go, there is bound to be someone with their cellphone held in front of them, taking a “selfie”. Laughing, smiling, making funny faces, frowning, giggling, recording their most trivial activity  on their cell phone is becoming a favourite activity for many.

One takes self-pics and admires them. But where is the fun in doing just that?

Of course, these pics must be sent immediately to one’s friends, relatives, colleagues, even casual acquaintances, so they can join in the admiration party!

I wonder if everyone who sent a 😀 as a response has even looked at the picture! Or has sending such a response become a reflex act now?

Clicking selfies may appear to be a harmless pastime, but that is not always the case.

I remember reading about a shocking incident which took place in Kerala, a couple of months ago.

“A 15-year-old, identified as Edwin, son of Chiyyaram Pulikkottil Vincent, was instantly killed by a speeding train while posing for a selfie on the track.

Edwin apparently wanted to have a selfie with an approaching train in the background to post on social media.”

Such a sad and pointless end to a young life!

Perhaps it would be more fruitful to turn the cellphone around and capture pics, not of ourselves, but of our surroundings?

Perhaps we should come out of our insular circle of ‘I, me and myself’? 

“No man is an island” 

-that is what John Donne wrote.

“No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.”

Perhaps it’s time we took our gaze off ourselves? Time we looked around us and observed and considered the society that we are a part of. Time we considered the people that make up our society.

What do you think?

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10 thoughts on “I, Me, and Myself”

  1. While I agree with a lot of what you have said, I don’t think it was the pastime of clicking selfie that harmed Edwin from Kerala. Don’t get me wrong. I am sure that was the immediate cause. but kids like that will surely find some daredevil act or other to do and get into danger. The rest are only following a harmless fad that will last till another one catches up and gets their (or anyone’s) attention.
    Every generation has had its fads and its detractors. In my generation, when we were kids, our elders tried to fill our heads with the “harms” of spending time in front of the mirror. That was the equivalent of today’s selfie. By their reckoning we should have grown up to be such vain and useless beings! But, did we? I laugh to think of the many dire consequences they predicted for us because we spent an extra few minutes getting that plait just right, that ribbon neatly tied into a bow.
    Selfies or not, or whatever new fad or not, ultimately we’ll be us, the persons we are, depending on the values inculcated while growing up. No selfie will ever change anything if the upbringing has been right.

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    1. Oh yes, I remember spending time in front of the mirror trying to get my hair ‘just right’. 🙂

      We did not make all our friends and acquaintances look and comment on the effect we achieved, though. Or perhaps that was just because the technology was not available then? Who knows?

      Youngsters today are far more mobile than our generation was able to be. They can go to different places- see new things. I just wish they would spend more time looking at the wonders in the world around them…….

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  2. Well, well … yes, indeed it’s the age of selfies … It’s the current fad. And, it will last till another one takes its place.

    If I have to see the brighter side of this fad … if I am alone in front of a monument, I don’t have to ask someone else to take my photo. Personal visual chronicles have become easier to compose. (That’s what I did when I was in Delhi in January.)

    Like you rightly pointed out in the beginning of your post, obsession with the self is not of recent origin; it’s been there from time immemorial.

    Regarding Edwin’s tragedy, there was nothing wrong in his idea to take a photo of himself with the train in the background. He only didn’t know how to position himself. I would fault his poor planning rather than his idea.

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    1. Apparently I am in the minority in thinking that the obsession of clicking selfies, and sending them to everyone one knows, indicates increasing self-centredness. 🙂

      As you have mentioned, yes, it is convenient to take our own snaps instead of asking someone else to do so. That’s a positive aspect.

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  3. It is not just kids who are bitten by the selfie bug, Manju! I am afraid. It is more for the attention, the validation of one’s identity and a false sense of being connected. But yes, it is becoming a little obsessive with people changing their pics more than once in a day and spending god knows how much time reciprocating others’ ‘likes’. What is more, some ‘studies’ claim it has a positive effect!

    What however is more disturbing is the selfishness exhibited by people cutting across age groups — jumping queues, overtaking, demanding to be served first….

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    1. Yes, it is disturbing to see the selfishness increasingly exhibited by people in general. I think sometimes so-called ‘individualism’ turns into selfishness.

      There should be a golden mean somewhere between ‘always thinking of yourself’ and ‘being a doormat’. 🙂

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  4. I must admit I have taken a few selfies but a lot of them with my grand daughter. Or sending one to my children when I am wearing what they sent me or something like that. There might be a bit of vanity in there as you point out. Never thought of it from that angle 🙂

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    1. Well, I don’t think that everyone who clicks a few selfies is Narcissist. 🙂

      And most people take pics [whether selfies or otherwise] to send to their relatives. 🙂

      At the time I wrote this post I had read several news reports about youngsters who had died while trying to take selfies of themselves in ‘daring’ situations. That’s why I wrote a bit more strongly than I would have otherwise written, I suppose.

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