Column: “Selfie Face”


No doubt you’ve seen it. It’s all over Facebook and Instagram, and it’s the very lifeblood of Snapchat. Cocked head, upturned eyes, perfect smile — it’s what I call the “selfie face.” It’s the basis for hundreds of snaps and profile pictures. It takes a good deal of effort, but after about 300 attempts, we finally have it: the perfect picture.

But it’s all a façade. Staged. Nobody really looks like that.

In a world where success equals fame, fortune and beauty, it seems we’ve developed a culture of “fauxthenticity.” We create a phony image of ourselves, and that becomes our reality. We pack our profiles with flattering photos and post updates about all the wonderful things we’re doing, to the point that you’d think we spend all our time dining at fancy restaurants and hobnobbing with celebrities.

We hide our real selves behind the mask of our technology in a desperate effort to make people think we’re something special. We manipulate our social media accounts to present ourselves as better than we really are — the way we wish we were.

We tend to convince ourselves that if we can just make people think we’re popular, successful and attractive, we really will be. Our motto becomes “fake it till you make it.” But in the end, it’s all an empty, superficial show.

All the same, we hope people are watching, don’t we?

An article published in Computers in Human Behavior likens Facebook to “a technologically enhanced mirror, reflecting a preoccupation with one’s own image, others’ reactions to this image and a desire to update the image as frequently as possible.”

I often find myself checking Facebook over and over again after I post a new photo or status update, just to see how many “likes” I’ve received. I’m concerned with what people think of the image I’ve projected, and if they don’t respond favorably, I’m quick to cover it up with a new and hopefully better one.

Whether we realize it or not, our “likes” bolster our self-esteem, and we can’t get enough of that feeling of confirmation. Addicted to that feeling, we become masters of the oh-so-popular selfie face.

We must uphold the image we’ve created at any cost, but if reality gets in the way, we may fold.

In a blog post, social media consultant Lilach Bullock tells the sad story of Internet marketer Bruce Serven, who shot his 22-month-old son in the chest, then himself in the head after an argument with his wife. But the reason for his suicide was deeper than an argument.

News reports said Serven had used the Internet to portray himself as a maverick entrepreneur with his own motivational blog and Facebook fan page. But in real life, he had been unemployed for months and had recently taken a job as a forklift driver. He had simply grown tired of living a lie. He could never make his life measure up to the one he had fabricated for himself, so he chose to end it.

But it didn’t have to end that way. Not for Serven, nor for us. We don’t have to live under the bondage of upholding an image, because, ultimately, we answer to God for what we do with our lives, not our 5,000 Facebook friends. And God looks at what’s real, not what we make up.

When God was preparing Samuel to anoint the second king of Israel, He advised, “Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.”

So maybe it’s time to stop wasting time practicing your selfie face. Instead, we should work on developing our real, genuine hearts that God sees.