Saturday, September 16, 2023
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The Generation of the Self-Obsessed

Sometimes it is quite amusing to observe the impact of the social media world on our youth. With the likes of Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Vine and Tumblr dominating the daily lives of people today, it seems like the younger generation is only concerned about getting more likes on their next “duck-face” photo, their thigh gaps, or a selfie in front of a major landmark. They know more about what the Kardashians wore for the Met Gala event than what the Pythagorean Theorem represents. We see them every day, everywhere; visit any popular hot spot and you will surely be surrounded by a herd of selfographers. And each time you revisit, it seems like their numbers multiply in geometric progression, spreading faster than plague. It is the generation of the self-obsessed. What’s worse, the selfie culture has become such a norm in our society, that it has already begun to spread to the older generation as well.

When looking at the cause of selfie popularity, one can understand the root cause after a quick analysis – it has to do with having control over the image. There is a sense of security when one can take their own picture instead of getting their picture taken by someone else. People generally know when they look their best and after taking a ton of pictures and getting their social media “likes”, they even know what particular angle works for them better than others. On top of that, they have full control over the editing process too, giving them freedom to represent themselves in the most ideal way possible. With enough experimentation, they learn how to rack up more “likes” and “you look sexy” comments from their friends and people who they’ve never met before. So at the end of the day, the reason for the existence of selfies boils down to two factors – control and narcissism, which can be further narrowed down to: self-obsession.

The hunt for more “likes” and followers, along with the chance to go viral is pushing the self-obsessed to engage in all kinds of idiotic, reckless and sometimes even life-threatening behavior. You have probably heard of selfie deaths exceeding deaths caused by shark attacks and other related statistics, showing how stupid people can get when practicing self-obsession. Just take a look at the below chart compiled together by folks at Priceonomics.com, which shows where selfie-related deaths stand compared to others:

Image courtesy of Priceonomics.com

And keep in mind that the above numbers are taken from reported deaths that specifically mention the word “selfie”. I bet the numbers in reality are much higher. On one hand, one could argue that it is “natural selection”, something they deserve when they die from such causes in pursuit of the selfie to die for, literally. On the other hand, those are valuable lives, which if put to good use, could have made a difference in our world. If it wasn’t for the rise of social media and the pursuit of more “likes”, perhaps those kids would have lived completely different lives…

When walking on the streets of Turkey, I saw a few people wear shirts that say “Selfie Obsessed” and the reality of the situation surely backed this up – selfographers were literally everywhere. Istanbul is a popular hot spot for sure and it attracts people from all over the world. But it is also a popular place to visit among Turks and the more shocking part for me was to discover that most selfies were taken by Turks themselves. With selfie vanity sticks being sold for cheap in every street corner, I have seen more vanity sticks in Istanbul than in any other major city I have been to so far, including New York and London. On one of the beautiful days in Istanbul when Lola and I decided to take a 2 hour Bosphorus boat ride, we were accompanied by a few Turkish youngsters, who were most likely visiting the big city. One of them, a young male who was probably in his early twenties, had his vanity stick out the entire time we were touring on the boat. Throughout the two hours, I lost count of how many times he took a selfie. All he cared about was taking his own pictures, from every angle, from every corner of the boat. It was truly shameful to see such behavior, because the fella did not get to see anything! Every time he was done with a selfie, he would turn the camera the other way around to take more pictures. And the sad thing is, he will probably never look at those pictures again anyway…

And vanity sticks were literally everywhere. Even in smaller towns and villages near Izmir, I would take a picture and later discover those damn things among the crowds. Although I tried my best to exclude the self-obsessed from my images, it was simply impossible and inevitable. So when I downloaded images from the Sony A6300 and the Fuji X-Pro2 to my computer, I realized how much of it I captured by accident. Below are some of the random images I would like to share with our readers, which portray the hopelessness of the selfie-obsession and the damage of the tourism industry in Turkey.

Let’s start with the world-famous Pamukkale. Many years ago, Pamukkale was a true wonder – with a total of 17 hot springs and a massive presence of travertine, it was the biggest hot spring wonder of the world. If you have been to the Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone NP, it would look minuscule in comparison to what Pamukkale offers – it is just massive. Over the years, the tourism industry has done its damage to the site. Since Pamukkale attracts huge crowds from all over the world, whoever runs this site decided that it is OK to allow people to swim in the pools, which overtime has done a lot of damage to the once cotton-white formations. As of today, most pools are empty and do not contain water and the pools that do have water have been modified to accommodate tourists wanting to take a bath in the natural wonder. It was sad to see what Pamukkale has become – a people zoo. And guess what the most popular activity in Pamukkale is? You’ve guessed it right, taking selfies! I only took a few images there and despite my attempts, I still managed to capture a few selfographers. Take a look at the below image taken on a not-so-busy day:

Pamukkale Springs with People. Note the Russian tourist on the right corner of the frame – yes, Russian men like wearing tight swimwear 🙂

And now let’s zoom in to the mid-frame to see what’s going on:

Vanity-stick duet and a selfie

Yup, those damn vanity sticks and selfies all over. A perfect spot to do it on isn’t it? I stood there for a few minutes observing the crowd and it was just hilarious to see how many people were engaged in this behavior.

What about Ephesus, the ancient Greek city that once hosted the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World? Let’s take a look at the walkway into the city:

Ephesus Walkway View
ILCE-6300 + E 35mm F1.8 OSS @ 35mm, ISO 100, 1/3200, f/2.2

Beautiful isn’t it? It is remarkable what our predecessors could do way back then with just stone and dirt. Let’s zoom in to the lower part of the frame:

Selfie Couple

Whoops, it is a couple engaged with their vanity stick taking a selfie!

How about the remarkable Library of Celsus?

Library of Celsus, Ephesus

Beautiful, isn’t it? Let’s zoom in to the lower right side of the frame:

Selfie Galore!

Whoa, that’s one hot spot for selfographers for sure! If you sit there and just watch for a few minutes, you will have a good laugh, I promise you.

Cat Pyramid

Whoops, I don’t know how this image ended up here. Moving on…

What about the popular beaches of Kusadasi just outside of Ephesus?

Kusadasi Beach

Let’s zoom in a bit:

Kusadasi Beach Zoom In

I didn’t see what was going on at the time I took the picture, but now I wonder – what was she taking a picture of for the selfie? Judging by the angle, it was her upper body and the sand on the beach! I bet she’d tried out a number of other angles!

I could go on and on. Sadly, this is the current state of the world today – self-obsession, vanity and narcissism matter more than what’s going on in Syria, Iraq, Ukraine, Lybia and many other countries of the world. The saddest part is that it is all fueled by the very passion we share – photography.

Let’s do our part by not engaging in this behavior. Selfies are destructive not just because of the physical dangers they pose due to unawareness of our surroundings, but also because they mess up and plague our minds with foolish ideas and perceptions. Let’s use our brains to do our best to make this world a better place to live for everyone, instead of chasing after more Facebook and Instagram “likes”. They mean absolutely nothing.

Next time you think about taking a selfie, perhaps this cute kitten from Turkey can change your mind:

No Selfies, Please!

Have a wonderful, selfie-less rest of the week!

#Selfie #Travel #TravelPhotography #Turkey

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