One of the reasons the selfie culture is so problematic is that it thrives on comparison. We want to prove ourselves better than others or better-looking than others or smarter than others or richer than others. This is why people work overtime to produce an image that puts them in the best possible light. Photos are taken from certain angles and filters are used to create the most polished image possible. All of this grows out of an inordinate emphasis on ourselves.
Bryan Loritts pointed out: “C. S. Lewis observed that each person’s pride can’t exist without competing with others. Pride can only be built on the supposed “inferiorities” of others— in comparing ourselves to others and in taking pleasure, not “out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man.” If there was no public school, where would the pride be in sending my child to a private one? If every house in every zip code was the exact same, where’s the pride when I pull into my garage? If there was only one ethnicity, the insidious pride of racism would be extinct. In order for pride to metastasize, it must feed off the other. The sexually pure need the promiscuous; the generous need the greedy; and established churches that rent need ones that go into debt to purchase a building to give them a sense of inflated identity. But if my identity is located in my morality and not in Christ, then I join the acting troop of hypocrites Jesus calls out in Matthew 6.”
This is why the bible cautions us against an attitude of selfishness. Paul says that one of the works of the sinful nature is ‘selfish ambition’ (Galatians 5:20). James warns us, “But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such ‘wisdom’ does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice” (James 3:14-16).
In our New Testament reading for this week, Jesus describes the corruption of the scribes and Pharisees with a word about selfishness: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.”
The selfie life is a dead end. It prevents a relationship with God, it destroys relationships with others, and in the end it leaves us miserable. May God deliver us from a life preoccupied with self!