Selfies provoke a complex, contradictory slop of emotions and reactions in me, that is if I don’t try to avoid those emotions altogether.
I’d find myself on some days judging people who take an excess of cute selfies, laughing with them in their momentary joy on another, finding it hard to resist posting my own selfie the next day, and then hating that my selfie posts attracted more attention than my “deeper” posts on another day. You could say I experience “selfie resistance.” Somewhat humorously, of course.
The most conflicting and suppressed part of that mix of emotions, was the admission that I too enjoyed taking my own selfies, to some degree.
Because I have conflicting feelings of both hating and enjoying selfies, I think my subconscious was trying to suppress and avoid thinking about them or “liking” them. Fuck, I hate the word “selfie” even more just having to repeat it over and over for this post.
Earlier in 2020, I heard Alex Grey on on a podcast talking about the power of Self Portrait. He talked about the Self Portrait as a sacred practice of reflection, and it completely reframed how I see and experience these things now. Self Portrait challenges us in the way we see ourselves, or more simply just to see ourselves, period.
You may notice you have a hard time conveying certain aspects on the canvas every time, or perhaps you always hide an angle of your face in the way you pose for a photo. When and where does your attention cut out or where do you portray inaccuracies about your features? These sorts of questions open the door for myriad of insights. It can become a playground of meditations.
Looking deep and long into your own eyes as you depict them sounds like one of the trippiest things you could possibly describe, like holding a mirror up to another mirror. It’s easy to lose your wits trying to make sense of anything in a space of infinite reflection. It also evokes the nature of Intimacy. We think of intimacy as something experienced with an Other, but we are practicing intimate connection with ourselves with the exercise of Self-portrait, if done with the right presence and intention.
And this exercise doesn’t have to be serious, just as love or friendship can be playful and ridiculous at times.
And in a way, I suppose selfies are a small version of self portraits.
I had never considered consciously attempting anything regarded as a “self-portrait” before hearing Alex Grey’s explanation of the practice, and I believe that was largely due to culturally and egotistically fear-based interpretations/internalizations about narcissism and self-obsession. I had never thought about how uncomfortable the idea of doing self-portraits made me until then.
That naturally led to me confronting my selfie-judgment that I often feel. Now I see it as this subconscious extension of trying to see the self, or trying to see the Self in a particular way. Which is a completely natural compulsion.
Sure, sometimes the act of taking selfies can become a little excessive, and it is not my place to judge what others are doing.
This is just an expansion in my own perception, a relaxation of where I once held tension and avoidance, an unwillingness to feel and allow certain things from others because of my own self-judgment projecting outward.