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Selfie vs. selfless

By Fr. ROY CIMAGALA, roycimagala@gmail.com
April 5, 2014

I was not surprised at all when I recently read somewhere that this selfie craze that seems to be sweeping the world these days, especially in our country, is an indication of a mental disorder.

I imagine that the practice really has to be an obsession for it to be a serious anomaly. If its just a passing curiosity or done merely for momentary fun, then there is not much to worry.

But the problem is that data on the ground point precisely to an obsessive craving for selfies as can be found in the social networks. Take a random look at these sites, and you will likely see a proliferation of these pictures that range from the inane and childish to the outright ridiculous and even obscene.

It may not be a big thing yet of crisis proportion, but if nothing is done about it, Im afraid we are heading in that direction. We need to remind everyone that this fad that is fast becoming a psychological syndrome ought to be approached with a lot of caution.

Its time to wave the flag of the virtue of temperance. Contrary to what some people say, and subtly supported by many commercials, this virtue has not become obsolete. It, in fact, has become more relevant, and even in an urgent manner, because of the storm surge of powerful instruments that can occasion this problem.

I believe this selfie syndrome is graver than smoking and drinking about which we always warn everyone to do them with moderation since they can be harmful to our health. This selfie syndrome is graver since it affects more our mental and spiritual health than our bodily well-being.

We have to be wary of the growing industry that promotes this culture, providing powerful and seemingly irresistible programs, apps and gadgets. They appear to do more harm than good since they are likely to lead people, the young ones especially, to self-indulgence and narcissism.

This selfie syndrome practically imprisons one in his own world, making him increasingly indifferent to the needs of others. It actually is destructive to our social relations. Group selfies are not genuinely social, since each member of the group would be more concerned about his own individualistic interest than that of the group.

The wings of love, of generosity, loyalty and fidelity are practically cut if not damaged. One tends to stay in the level of mediocrity and to become more vulnerable to other human weaknesses and temptations when he is afflicted with this selfie syndrome. The value of sacrifice practically disappears.

The challenge of effectively tackling this problem is quite enormous, because we have to contend with complicated mindsets and lifestyles that practically prohibit anyone from correcting anybody else or even from suggesting a better way of using ones time and resources.

These mindsets and lifestyles have been with us for centuries now, cultivated under the atmosphere of laxity in Christian and even basic human morals, on the one hand, and of a growing tendency to justify ones behavior using liberal and loose philosophies and ideologies, part of the culture of death, on the other hand.

What we have is a situation of a sweet poison that is mesmerizing us, leading us to a slow suicide.

Obviously in this regard, while we have to use all human and natural means to remedy the predicament, we also have to realize that we need to avail of the spiritual and supernatural means, first of all. Yes, we need a lot of prayers, sacrifice, personal guidance and collective forms of apostolate, etc.

These are very effective means, since what we are ranged against are not just natural nemesis, but spiritual and also supernatural, though definitely of the bad kind.

Again, the family and the schools play a very crucial role in this. Most of all, the doctrine of self-denial and of carrying ones cross, as explicitly taught by Christ, should be retailed more widely and effectively.

Remember that Christ himself said: If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. (Mt 16,24) He reassured us this is actually the way to save our life, to find true and lasting joy.

We should rather foster a culture of self-forgetfulness, of total selflessness, since as Christ said, He who loses his life for my sake shall find it. (Mt 16,25)

Lets hope that this divine message is spread and lived in the family, schools, among friends and colleagues, and in our collective life of politics, business, etc.