TAKING pictures of oneself, or the selfie as it is called, has raised many issues and concern. Since social media has taken the world by storm, taking a selfie is now very common.
In the past, we’d have marked the moment of having been to a significant place with some sort of carving or writing “so-and-so was here”. At the very most, selfies then were solo shots taken from a camera on a timer fixed on a tripod. Today, people take selfies and post them on sites like Instagram and Facebook.
Everyone’s now a photographer and model rolled into one. It’s wonderful because you don’t need to ask someone to take what’s often an impulsive photo opportunity.
There are articles and debates questioning selfies. Is that person narcissistic? Is there something fundamentally and psychologically wrong with people who do this regularly or have a need to do so?
Not too long ago, a device called the monopod (as opposed to the traditional tripod) designed for taking photos of oneself with the smartphone, as well as group photos, hit the market. With it, the photographer need not be doomed to stay behind the lenses anymore. I too have jumped on the bandwagon and am guilty of having great fun with monopod “wefies” (as opposed to selfies).
Taking group photos has never been more fun since this invention. It also livens up parties and gets everyone going, even the usually camera-shy people. The result has been consistently positive.
This brings us to the next consideration of where, when and why we do this. There’s a time and place for everything. Of late, people seem to have forgotten decorum when taking selfies. It’s one thing to take them at parties and sociable functions, it’s quite another to do so during solemn moments at funerals, wakes and in hospitals with patients who’re critically ill and who can’t speak for themselves to protest. In fact, they should not even have to protest. We should have the sense, decorum and respect to preserve a person’s dignity.
To photograph a moment as a form of marking an event, even funerals, is still quite acceptable if done with permission or discreetly and with respect. You may just keep it for your private archive or to later share with the family. But to position yourself in front of the camera for the purpose of posting on social media to say “I was there” is, in my opinion, in extremely poor taste.
You are at a funeral, a sad and solemn time and you are taking a selfie — the grieving family in the background and you with an automatic smile. How insensitive is that?
A group photo of a smiling bunch at a funeral? That’s not cool. It hurts. Never mind if you’re not posting that on social media. The act of disrespect burns deep.
I remember when my parents were ill and hospitalised with doctors’ orders of restricted number of visitors. As the primary caregiver, I was very strict and really followed doctors’ instructions. I know I offended many because of this.
In those days, smartphones weren’t what they’re today. Social media was in its infancy. So people taking photos of my parents being sick weren’t a problem. Whatever photos taken were with consent.
Nonetheless, when my parents were critically ill, I’d pounce like a rabid guard dog if I felt that people were visiting them for the gawk factor, of being curious what a near death experience is like, or just to see someone in pain and struggling for life.
I was just thinking that if selfies were the order of the day back then, I’d have physically hurled quite a few people out of the room and forever be despised for not being “sporting”.
It’s not surprising then that some people have left strict instructions with their loved ones that should they ever get so sick, to not let visitors take photos of them at will.
I was just thinking of the final requests made by the late Biduanita Negara Datuk Sharifah Aini. It has been a little more than a month since her passing but I cannot forget those requests she made.
Apart from the wish that she’d like her son to be there in the final moments and when the time came, for him to be the imam leading the final prayers, she left instructions to protect her image, dignity and personal space.
Among the loving messages she listed for her son were not to allow non-family members to see her being washed and prepared for burial except for her best friends and those who were there to do their job. Strangers should not be allowed to enter and take any photographs at will. She mentioned that in this age of smartphones, she didn’t want any of these photos to be uploaded on the Internet.She had the correct idea and I’m glad that she made it known. We should learn from that. PUTRI JUNEITA JOHARI JUNEITAJOHARI@YAHOO.COM. - NST Lifestyles 17 AUGUST 2014 @ 8:02 AM