Barack Obama was caught taking a selfie with David Cameron and Danish PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt at the memorial service for Nelson Mandela this week. Arguably, 2013 has been the year of the selfie, it being declared the word of the year by the Oxford English Dictionary and then even the Pope getting in on the act (see Sian’s post earlier this week). Instagram said this year that the hashtag #selfie has appeared 57 million times on its network!
There is something quite thrilling about seeing a leader looking like he’s having a bit of fun at a sombre occasion. Some have been outraged by the behaviour of these world leaders – others secretly thrilled that they are ‘just like us’. Sometimes, we can get quite judgemental about others’ behaviour in particular contexts – and especially in church. Comedy facebook page ‘Church of Laugh‘ made a note of this:
The journalist who took the photos has made it clear now that the context of this selfie was an atmosphere of joyous celebration, and the stern look on Michelle Obama’s face was caught completely by chance.
I always like to question myself, however, whenever I’m feeling judgemental, about the source of my anger – it’s not always coming from a very good place. Jesus’ comment about motes and planks comes to mind.
But what are selfies really all about? I could start bemoaning the fact that the selfie just shows how individualistic our society has become: there is definitely something of that going on. However, I would also argue that there is something about witnessing in the taking of a selfie.
Technically, the Pope’s and Obama’s selfies aren’t pure selfies – in that they are not just of themselves but shared with others. These kind of selfies are about shared experience, friendship and about creating memories.
What those particular selfies proclaim is ‘I was there!’ ‘I was a witness to this’.
Maybe under this definition, the gospels are a form of selfie – the disciples saying ‘I was there!‘
We are all called to witness to Christ, to share those experiences of Jesus in our lives with others – that kind of selfie seems all right to me!
To pick a seasonal spoof meme from the movie Elf – ‘we know Him’!