My Selfie-loving country

I live in Makati City, Philippines — recently declared by Time as the “Selfie Capital of the World.”

Selfie Capital From Time

Above: Screenshot of the Time study identifying cities with the most number of “selfie-takers.” My city takes the cake with 258 selfies per 100,000 people.

The news was met with the same intensity as Filipinos hearing about an American Idol contestant with a drop of Filipino blood: news gets circulated starting from the 7AM news up to the 11PM round up, people share the “good news” on Facebook and yes, there are actually people tittering with excitement due to this honor. Truth be told, I am conflicted if this bit of “good news” is something to get excited about.

Have we become to transfixed with ourselves that we have to record our faces everytime?

During last Sunday’s mass, the priest talked about this bit of news and how capturing moments have become extinct, same as the company  Kodak which went bankrupt following the death of film cameras. I remembered when I was young and people use nothing but film cameras. We buy film rolls (usually comes in 12 shots, 24 and 36) and we have to make sure that the moments we take are worth it in order not to waste a shot. Hence, the pictures of yesterday shows our fully-made up forebears, dressed to the nines and usually include all family members. To take pictures then was to celebrate an event, to capture a moment or simply to have a momento to a very important occassion. I remember my mom telling me everytime “not to waste my shot” as I clutch the trusty Pentax wind-up camera given by my (now departed) uncle. Same uncle replaced the clunky Pentax with an automatic one (I love the sound of “whiiiiiiir” as the film roll retracts back to its case) after a few years but it always ends up with me retracting the film roll and going to the friendly neighborhood film processing studio to turn it into pictures. Same studio is still open (but has gotten rid of its film developing business) and is now a mini grocery store selling sanitary napkins and batteries.

Taking pictures then was equal to celebrating an event — nowadays, taking pictures is something people do when they want to pass time.

Don’t get me wrong — I am also guilty. A folder in my Facebook page, plus a few shots in my Instagram account will prove that I am also a trigger-happy, #filter-using, Instagramming fiend who celebrate hair cuts and newly bought lipstick with a mean selfie.

But how do we define when your addiction to seeing your duck-pouting, filter-dependent self is just too much? Consider these examples:

  • You have a folder/s in Facebook dedicated to 67 pictures of you and your various head angles/ duck pout variations taken when you woke up. I have friends like these and they happily rest under my “Unfollow Friend” list.
  • You can’t get out of your house unless you take a #OOTD (outfit of the day, for those with lives not revolving vanity). Never mind if the clothes you wear are not Fashion Week worthy.
  • You sprained your hand because you keep reaching up — to take the patented “camera from above” shot that is popular to the selfie loving masses.
  •  You have 15 different folders in your Facebook page that contains nothing but your face.
  • You have the complete list of photo apps in your iPhone/Android phone to make sure that you have all the tools needed in creating the perfect picture.

Of course, the advent of smart phones have erased the need to “wait for the moment” before anyone can take the pic. A simple press of a button, some swipe here and there for photo editing and you are good to go. If you find the photo is not to your liking, you can always erase and take another shot.

Being declared as the “Selfie Capital of the World” is not bad. But I do want people to know that we are more than a country of selfie-loving people. We are strong, resilient, we love unconditionally, we are God-fearing and we know how to celebrate moments with our nearest and dearest. Taking a picture is just one of them.

PS: I opened the Photos folder in my trusty iPhone and it shows that I have about 30 selfies out of 284 photos. That’s more than 10% It means that I contributed to the findings by Time.

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