Since cameras have become ubiquitous in sell-phones, people have begun to take pictures of themselves (selfies) in various situations. Along with the growing significance we ascribe to social media came the need to present ourselves in more daring, special, and original ways. But people don’t know where to draw the line. According to a study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, which operates under the National Institute of Health, there is an accelerating trend to take risky selfies. In 2011, for example, three people died in what became known as “selficides” (selfie-related fatal accidents). In 2017, that number was 93.
We cannot overemphasize how dangerous taking reckless selfies can be. We must be very adamant in stating that such irresponsible behavior can cost us our lives. However, we must also understand where this phenomenon stems from because if we are to truly prevent these tragedies, we must change people’s attitude toward themselves and toward their place in the world.
Taking a selfie is a way to “immortalize” oneself. Deep down, we cannot agree with the finiteness of our body since we truly are eternal, connected to the eternal force that creates all that exists, including humans. Because subconsciously, we feel connected to eternity, our dying physical demise is always in the back of our minds. We try to “trick” the limits of time and “perpetuate” ourselves, transcend the boundaries of time and place, and sometimes, we risk our present for the chance of eternal renown.
I, too, feel this drive, though not enough to risk my life for it. It is a highly developed form of narcissism that uses photos to defy the boundaries of time and rise above the physical existence. Just as Narcissus looked in the water and fell in love with his own image, we think that our picture in risky situations somehow proves that we are worthy, that we have achieved something worth remembering.
In fact, if there is any “achievement” here, it is the lesson that narcissism is bad for us. It is bad not because it is harmful in and of itself, although it is. It is bad mainly because our root is a force of giving, creating, and spreading of energy and vitality. By focusing on ourselves, we become the opposite of that force: receiving, destroying, and absorbing energy and vitality. Instead of becoming as immortal as our root, we disconnect ourselves from it and thereby make our existence not only transient, but also detrimental to the rest of reality.
If we want to emerge from our narcissism, we must try to be considerate and caring about others. The minute we begin to feel that our hearts are connected to the hearts of others, we will stop fearing death. Instead, we will be certain that although our bodies are fleeting, our selves, our souls will have attained a true connection with eternity. Our connections with others will vitalize us and prolong our existence long after our physical presence ends, and we will know that risking our physical safety is wrong because it denies us the opportunity to connect to people and immortalize our souls.