Five Reasons I Don’t Take Selfies

Photo Courtesy: Paško Tomić

Photo Courtesy: Paško Tomić


I despise selfies. I’m pretty sure I disdain the word itself even more. Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, the word “selfie” has recently infiltrated our dictionaries.

The Oxford Dictionary defines “selfie” this way: “A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.”

The practice has spread like wildfire on Facebook and Twitter, but I don’t think we’ve taken enough time to reflect on the impact of culture’s rapid adoption of the practice.

Here are five reasons I don’t take selfies:

1. I don’t want to look 10 years older than I am. If there is ever a pressing need for you to see every wrinkle, scar, and blemish on my face., then maybe I would consider it. Seriously, taking a photo of yourself with a camera inches from your eyebrows in dark lighting is just asking to make yourself look like you’ve put on a few years.

Chesapeake Bay

My recent sunset walk along the Chesapeake Bay

2. Photography is an art form. As a photographer, I am passionate about nature and landscape photography. As such, my goal is to let you see a bit of the world from my point-of-view. If you are able to experience the wonder and beauty of my outdoor adventures, then I’ve done my job. Selfies tend to ruin the beauty of the art.

3. It’s not about me. Granted, I am part of God’s great story. However, my goal is to boast about God’s creation through my photos and life experiences. Selfies serve to bring glory and honor to self. They are a cry for attention and affirmation. The affirmation is short-lived, and will never bring lasting fulfillment.

4. A social media presence is about building and developing relationships. My goal is to add value to the lives of others, and selfies add arguably little-to-no value. In fact, studies have shown that posting too many selfies can harm your real-life relationships.

5. Because everyone else is doing it. I’m a non-conformist. Since everyone is doing it, that is a plenty good enough reason to run the other direction.

What’s your take on selfies? Do you take part? Why or why not?

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  • Kari Scare

    I agree with every point you made, Chris, especially the last one. I take non-conforming to a point of fault sometimes. I would add that selfies cause you to make stupid faces too, and they are not flattering. My oldest son calls them the duck face (you know the face where people feel the need to purse their lips making them look like duck bills). What’s that all about anyway?

    • Chris Peek

      Agreed Kari – selfies are not flattering. I don’t get the duck face either. It’s almost a form of entertainment to see so many people making the same faces. Like you, most of the time I distance myself from the latest cultural craze.

      • Kari Scare

        Do you ever feel that distancing yourself from cultural trends seems to make you a bit of an outsider, even in your Christian circles? Maybe it’s more of a woman thing?

        • Chris Peek

          Yes, I do feel like an outsider when it comes to cultural trends. I believe that those who follow Jesus often go right along with these trends without taking a moment to reflect on their true effect on both their faith and influence with others. This is one of the reasons I wrote this post – to start a meaningful conversation about an issue most people have never thought about.

          • Kari Scare

            I feel the same way. A lot actually. And it bothers me, too. Maybe it bothers me too much. I wish they could see that much of their stress is the result of them following cultural trends so much.

  • Teri XYZ

    My take on selfies? In moderation I think they are fine. I’ve done them myself. On your point 1 – that’s funny! Never thought of that but since I don’t do phone selfies I’ve never seen one of myself from such a close distance. Also, to get a good selfie one really needs to consider composition, lighting, focal lengths, etc.

    Point 2 – I AM a photographer. And I do photography as an art form. But I also have fun with it. Even a chef might want a bologna sandwich for lunch. :-)

    Point 3 – Yes, sometimes it IS about me. Sometimes I want to document that *I* was there and remember my enjoyment of a time. If you are going solo, there is no one to take a photo of you. I fully realize it is all about God, but we can have fun too. My feelings when I hear someone saying over and over, ‘It’s all God” – I wonder if I’m hearing some pride there.

    Point 4 – If one is a social media addict, I can see your point entirely. Excess is never good. But don’t lump everyone in the same category.

    Point 5 – Really? So you do nothing that a large group of people do? Where’s your line? How do you decide the point of ‘everyone’? Does your ‘non conforming’ slide into the area that people are burdened by you ‘doing it your way’? Is non conforming something that might smack a bit of pride?

    • Chris Peek

      I appreciate your thoughtful responses. Each of us classify art in our own way, and my perspective is that selfies in most forms are ugly. Just a personal preference. I like to document when I am at a location, such as a hike, but I prefer to ask someone else to take it or use a tripod. That isn’t always feasible, I understand.

      I’m not trying to take holier-than-thou attitude. I truly come from a heart of wanting people to consider how the commonality of daily selfies is a reflection on our me-first culture. Am I a 100% non-conformist – definitely not. However, my faith calls me to shy away from trends of pop culture that promote self. Far too many cultural trends are accepted without us truly reflecting on: 1) Should we be accepting of the practice and 2) What is the my motivation behind participating with the masses?

  • S Scott Johnson

    Good points, Chris! Yea, I think this should be done in moderation. I’m not a big fan of selfies either. The other day, I was listening to a news report that the craze for selfies was becoming unhealthy for many. Leading some down the paths of anorexia or bulimia. Some have even gone to great measures with plastic surgery. I guess the thing I worry about most with social media is that vast numbers of people try to project an image or personality that’s not really them in real life. Heck, I’m sometimes tempted that direction.

    • Chris Peek

      Thanks Scott! Yes, there have been quite a number of studies that have linked selfies and too much social media usage to depression, as well. I agree that there is this overwhelming temptation to project a certain image of ourselves to the world. As I have found through blogging, we truly connect with people when we are authentic with them.

  • Charity Craig

    I love taking selfies. Even when you had to use a point and shoot camera. :)

    • Chris Peek

      You must have been taking them before they were called selfies!

  • LRM

    I think balance is essential. Granted, people all over the world are taking selfish selfies. Kudos for recognizing that overdoing it can be damaging. However, I can see why other people are bristling a little bit at your tone, because you fail to acknowledge that there can be good reasons for doing it. Personally, I’m on a journey of learning to accept myself for who God made me to be, warts and all, and for me, a selfie now and then is actually a step toward letting my guard down, swallowing pride, and letting others in. I have felt ugly and hated my appearance since before the internet, so I avoided cameras. I know scores of other people who are on the same journey. But it was pointed out to me after my kids were born that I need to realize my kids want to remember their mom being places with them during their childhoods, not be glad I avoided cameras because I wasn’t some supermodel. If it weren’t for selfies with them, I would be in very few pictures. For them, and for other family members who just like to see updates on how I’m doing, I will sacrifice and endure feeling vulnerable so that I’m not the ghost behind the camera in all our family albums. And hopefully when I’m a little old lady I’ll be able to look at all those crappy selfies that “ruin the beauty of art” and cherish the moments they captured. Because that IS art.

    • Chris Peek

      Thanks for taking a moment to read and comment. My purpose in writing this piece was to get readers to think about the motivation behind selfies. Obviously, you have put some thought into it and it works for you. Since I have a newborn, I personally would not want my photographic memories to be taken with him in the form of selfies on a cell phone camera – which is why I use a high-quality camera and ask family members to take them. But that is my personal taste, just as you have your own opinion of what art is. That is why two people can look at a painting – one calling it crap and the other calling it beauty.

      • LRM

        And I don’t mean this as sexist in ANY way, but guys and girls do see this issue very differently and have very different reasons for doing it or avoiding it.

        • Chris Peek

          I agree for the most part – although my wife despises selfies, and many women have agreed with this post. But as anecdotal evidence, women tend to be the selfie posters in my Facebook feed about 75% of the time.

  • Thomas Mason

    I haven’t ever taken a selfie nor do I believe I ever will. I do not like them either. It just shows the obsession with self that is so prevalent in our society, even in Christian circles. It can become very annoying when it seems we’re bombarded with them most every day.

    However, I notice that my daughter takes lots of selfies. Since she’s only ten, that’s to be expected. It’s the norm in her age group these days, and to her it’s clean, simple fun. I certainly don’t fault her or correct her behavior. It’s just what she’s seen other kids do and peer pressure at her age is just about everything.

    • Chris Peek

      Thomas, we are in agreement. Part of it is a generational issue. That is my concern for the upcoming generations – that they are born into a world that encourages fame and selfishness over hard work and selflessness. I truly believe the selfie craze represents a symptom of this larger problem.

  • Jackie

    As a single who’s happy with her life… I totally take selfies… I want memories of my trips and adventures. And since I don’t have people to take the pic I have to take it myself. It’s fun and not meant to be all about myself. Just a way for me to document my world. I don’t want to have an album full of pictures of landscapes and houses with no people. And I don’t want to NOT go on my adventures just because none of my friends can make it.
    So while I agree that some selfies are ridiculous and unnecessary, I also think they are awesome for some people to tell their story. :)
    I like your points. But not for my life if that makes sense. I know why and how I take selfies and I don’t care that it’s unpopular right now. (non conformist) LOL
    Good post tho!

    • Chris Peek

      Jackie, thanks for your perspective. I appreciate you sharing. As an adventurer myself, I can appreciate that. As I have mentioned to other commenters, my whole point for this blog was for people to examine their motivations for taking and posting selfies. I can live with someone posting a selfie taken while hiking the Grand Canyon – not so much everyday from their bathroom mirror.

  • Michael Wright

    Chris, I like it when posts like this hit a nerve. My take is similar to the comments here – that it’s probably both a personality bent (like an introvert (who dislikes the camera), or an extrovert, who lives to share photos and their going-ons, etc and also a generational change of sorts.

    All of this social media is relatively new to the world and it’s hard to imagine perhaps that this is the world that teenagers and 20-somethings grew up in. It’s the world they know and who will show them any different? My parents in their 70’s regularly Facebook and share things, while I’m in the middle, not even owning a smartphone (thus unable to take the selfie) :) It’s here to stay, but I think the younger generation is more ‘social’ per se because of this and may not even be aware of any “selfish” motives behind their actions, if that exists.

    We all have selfish tendencies (i.e. the flesh), and I think we exhibit these in different ways – some by way of the “selfie”. I’ve found out from personal life experience, whenever I’m ‘down and out’, unmotivated to do anything meaningful, it usual is an indication that I am thinking about ‘me” too much. Perhaps that is why we see studies about how people that Facebook often are less enthusiastic and more depressed than not. That is my concern as is yours, that too much of wanting to make much of “Me”, in the world, yet not denying our unique and special identity in God.

    • Chris Peek

      Michael, I figured this post would generate some conversation, but I can’t believe the response. After three days, this is already the most viewed post in my blogging history. Apparently, I did hit a nerve!

      You have brought up a great point about introverts and extroverts. Obviously, we introverts generally tend to take time and reflect on the world around us. Extroverts may post numerous selfies and status updates because it is a reflection of how they relate to people in the real world – many likely have no selfish agenda intended.

      This is why I write posts like these – to challenge the conventional practices and cause us to reflect on the why of what we’re doing. We desire to be loved and to find our unique calling, while at the same time aware that we are called to give glory to God while denying self. I obviously share the belief that posting selfies tends to be self-serving, but others have provided valid reasons for taking them. Ultimately, it comes down to a personal choice.

  • Betty Draper

    I am a total extrovert and have never taken a selfie and probably never will. People who don’t like their picture taken can annoy me especially if it’s family and you just want the memory of being with them in pictures. So I think both extremes can be bit of , it’s all about me. I love getting selfies of my children and grand children as long as they are modest. They all think I am pretty cool because I fb and write a blog and am pretty bold about the Lord on both. I do none of these things for them to think I am cool but I love it when they comment on something I write or a quote I post or a picture. My sweet introvert husband had his own fb page for about a month but could not get into it but reads mine every day which I love. Also surprises me because I never post anything political which he loves. He is very comfortable letting me be the social one. I am very comfortable being the social one too. After living for years over seas where communication was often reduced to a ham radio contact I must admit being shocked at what people do put out there for all to see or read. Since the beginning of time everything new that has come out has given us the choice to use or abuse it. It’s always about self control. Thought provoking post…

    • Chris Peek

      Betty, thank you for taking a moment to read and comment. I appreciate you stopping by! Your marriage sounds quite similar to ours – my wife is the extrovert, and I’m the introvert. Ironically, I tend to enjoy Facebook more than she does. It’s a great place for me to interact and build connections, along with my blog.

      You bring up a great point about people who don’t want to be in photos. There is definitely a happy medium, especially when it comes to posting photos. And you’re right – it is shocking what some people post. Sadly, our culture holds high this false notion of fame, and many believe they need to broadcast their daily lives without any consideration of self control.

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  • Dan Black

    Great reasons Chris. It does not make sense to me to take a picture of myself and post it on social media. I avoid it at all costs.

    • Chris Peek

      Thanks Dan. I completely agree.