Is the “Selfie” a Form of Idolatry?Posted on: April 2, 2014, by : Jeremy A Walker
For those of you who do not know, when a person takes a photo of himself or herself, usually with a phone or other digital device, it is known as a Selfie. These photos are typically uploaded to social media sites where individuals take and post hundreds, if not thousands of photos of themselves. The photos could have to do with where they are, what they are doing, or who they are with, but they always have the same foreground focal point. Each of these photos is primarily capturing the individual who is taking the picture.
Because of the prevalence of this kind of activity, it may not seem all that odd to you at this point, but in reality, this marks a dynamic shift in the culture. This is the first time in history that we see a self-contained worship of self.
Prior to this point, in order to have photos or even large amounts of focus placed on an individual, it was necessary for that person to engage other people. However, today a person can take their own picture, adjust the photo to be more flattering, upload it to a social media site, and admire themselves without engaging any other human. According to Dr. David Veal of Priority Hospital of North London, this kind of activity has been linked to narcissism in teens, as well as other mental illnesses, but I’m interested in the spiritual component to this generational denominator. How does the selfie detract worship and admiration from the Creator, and place it on the creation?
Any time humans engage in worship that is not focused the Lord, they are engaging in a form of Idol worship. Now the focus of the worship, and the worshiper are one in the same.
It seems as though Satan has returned to his original trick. He has asked, “For God knows that when you eat of it [forbidden fruit] your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God…” Genesis 3:5
To be like God, in this case, is to be worshiped.
“It is not enough,” Satan must have said, “to entice the world to worship a few people. Now we will convince them that they should all be worshiped.”
Temples erected to the worship of self. Free shrines offered to encapsulate the worship of each person on the planet. Each thought of exultation being laced upon a screen in complements, likes, favorites, and shares; each connection from one shrine to the other proving how relevant our self-worship. All of which epitomized by the selfie; the single most selfish expression of Idolatry.
Or maybe I’m just blowing this all out of proportion…
Photo supplied by M’Kenzie G. who is not an idolater BTW!
6 thoughts on “Is the “Selfie” a Form of Idolatry?”
Hi! This is the first post of yours I've read, and I thought it was very interesting. I don't know if you're blowing it "all the way" out of proportion, but I don't think it's as bad as it seems. Though it definitely could be seen as a "worshiper is the worshiped" situation, I don't think that is at all the case. A lot of times this generation is called narcissistic and other names along with the "me" generation, but I would like to point out not-so-ancient times. I think it is unfair to say this is the "first time in history that we see a self-contained worship of self." The nobles in Europe were not able to take selfies, and they did have to get someone else to help them, but is that not MORE narcissistic than snapping a picture of yourself on your front camera? These people would hire painters and pay them hundreds if not thousands of dollars just to sit in front of them and make them a picture of (get this) themselves. I think it's always been human nature to want to capture oneself, but I don't think it's the devil's doing. I might be reaching a little out of the way in saying this, but I don't think a generation that has so many issues with accepting themselves and their appearances can be blamed for self-idolatry. You have a very interesting perspective, but I guess I just see things differently by being an actual part of the "selfie, me me me, narcissistic generation." I really hope you don't mind me commenting this! Great post, by the way!
I agree that it's a sign of our self-absorbed culture, but I don't think it's the first time in history that this has happened – Rembrandt, Van Gogh, etc., all excelled in painting numerous self-portraits. It was even the norm for amateur artists to create various self-portraits. I don't know if it's quite the same thought, but I think that was the "selfie" of those days. Granted, one takes time and skill, the other takes a duckface and the click of a button, but both can be idolatrous: spending arduous hours carefully painting your cheekbones in just the right light, or, posting hundreds of selfies on the MyFace web sites, showing people how good we think we look in a moment's notice (and also how much toothpaste-splatter is on our mirrors).
Hector: Thank you for your comment. I agree that self-centeredness is nothing new, I guess my point was about the availability of the media. I completely agree with the idea that there are plenty of ways that people from every generation have focused on themselves. Also, I'm not that old, so my generation (me included) is on the hot seat. Your comments are always welcome!
Joe: I appreciate your comment. I was unaware that I was coming off as combative, and that was never my intention. I will work on that in the future. I welcome any further input you have!
Hi, Jeremy, I'm here from the 30 Days of Hustle. As a photographer, I can look back through photographers of the past and see where many of them made self-portraits. My sister and I used to also do this for fun. I think a big part of it is the heart (as is the case with so many things). For some, it may be narcissism at its finest. For others, I think it's just a fun thing. Personally, I enjoy some of the selfies my friends take. Again, speaking as a photographer and a mom, too often, we're the ones behind the camera who are never seen anywhere in pictures. But I still think it goes back to being a matter of the heart. Just my .02. 🙂
I actually started researching this topic after joining instagram a week ago. At first, it was interesting to catch up with my friends and admire the lives of strangers. By the third day, however, I wondered what real personal value I gained from the endless stream of selfies. Unfortunately, the culture of selfies seems to encourage vanity and pride. The entire essence is to show off – how beautiful, accomplished, rich, well dressed etc the Selfie-taker is. Its hardly a surprise that people hardly post unflattering selfies. I have since deleted my account. The Scripture you quoted is apt: people have become 'lovers of self', and I believe this is something the lord hates.
I personally intend to steer clear of the shrine of self worship – as christians we are to be selfless and focused solely on spreading the gospel to all men. This gospel is of the risen Christ, not Self. Thank you very much for your post, which i agree with 100%.
Perhaps, I feel so. Normally, craze for a selfie mostly you find in youth. Young boys and girls show more craziness towards selfie snaps and that one can see on social media these days. On Facebook you will find in most of the girls account a frequent sharing of selfie pics and other snaps these days which can be a good example. Thanks.
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