I live in Santa Barbara, California, a smaller city on the coast of Southern California. Santa Barbara, like many SoCal cities, is filled with vanity. On the vain scale, I rank it at a 7. How do I rank vanity? Simple. I count the amount of selfie sticks I see on any given block. Santa Monica, CA is ranked at a 14.

Don’t get me wrong, selfie sticks can be great! They can get more people in one picture, but think for a second about what selfies represent in our culture. People spend money and time in order to get the perfect selfie for social media. In fact, they go to great lengths in order to simulate having a photographer following them around by using a selfie stick. I met a young man who has made nearly $90,000 a year by teaching people how to take a proper selfie or instagram post.

Our selfie culture is a result of our selfish culture.

We want our faces, our stories, and our lives to be known. We want to be seen and liked by as many people as possible. A huge part of it is because the world has gotten bigger. It is a lot easier to feel as though we will disappear if we do not have a big presence online.

We can talk about the psychology and sociology of it all day. However, I just want to bring up one question to you. Ultimately, it is a question I need to ask myself as well. Is technology causing your heart to curve inward?

What do I mean by curving inward? I mean that our hearts and minds have a tendency to see everything through the lense of how it affects us. We are continually thinking about our image and how we are perceived by other people.

How do you know that your heart is curved inward? Simple. Your actions are centered around how you may look rather than what the result is. If your heart is curved inwards, you will post an article about helping the poor and leave it at that. If your heart is curved outwards, you will spend time at a soup kitchen and donate your extra clothes (without feeling the need to post it on Instagram). The examples vary but the message is loud and clear. Stop doing things for the sole purpose of boosting your image or brand.

We are able to practice outward thinking by purposefully finding ways to be charitable without being recognized. If you are passionate about homelessness, maybe you can go donate your time at a soup kitchen and leave your phone in the car. If you are passionate about the refugee crisis, maybe you can give anonymously to relief efforts in Turkey. If you are passionate about women’s health issues, maybe you can go volunteer at a local pregnancy center. Here’s the key to all of it – don’t tell anyone! In fact, don’t even take a picture. Slowly but surely, your motivation will meet your actions.

Zak Shellabarger
Project Director

Categories: Think Piece

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