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Suit Your Selfie

September 16, 2017

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I conclude, therefore, that most people who take selfies are at least minimally satisfied with their appearance, however they may appear to others. But in fact it hardly requires reflection on the selfie as a social, or antisocial, phenomenon to know that very large numbers of people have no idea what they look like to others. Or perhaps it is simply that they don’t care.

In places where half the population is the size of a beached whale, people dress in such a way that emphasizes rather than disguises or makes dignified their size. They love tight fits and bright shades—shocking pink and apple green, for example—as if challenging passersby to take notice of them and utter an insult, so that they can then feel aggrieved. In fact, it is they who are aggressive: They know both that one cannot fail to find them grotesque and that one is prevented by social convention and the desire to be polite from demonstrating either by word or facial expression that one finds them grotesque. It must be the same with the photos of themselves that they show. There is no physical exercise that can compare to that of holding one’s tongue.

This is why the doctrine of multiculturalism, far from making people behave better and more sensitively to the feelings of others, allows them to behave worse and less sensitively to the feelings of others. It is almost normal or instinctive human behavior when in unfamiliar social surroundings to look around and see how other people are behaving, estimate what might offend them, and adjust one’s own conduct accordingly. Of course, one sometimes gets it wrong, but at least one tries. However, if multiculturalism is the demand that we accept the conduct of others, it is at least as much the demand that they accept our conduct, whatever it might be. And therefore there is no need for us to adjust it merely for their comfort.

I am glad to say that the only selfies I have ever taken are those of my knees or feet, or the insides of my pocket, when the camera of my phone has gone off uninstructed by me.

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