Digital age is fraught with potential pitfalls

It’s election season and I rarely, if ever, venture into the weeds of political campaigns, ballot initiatives and overall punditry supporting or opposing some issue, candidate or cause.

And it is with more than a little trepidation that I break tradition and go on record regarding a matter that is becoming of increasing importance to individuals, families and the very fabric of civilized society.

It is an issue spawned and nourished by the digital revolution. Now, anyone with a cell phone has access to troves of information; anyone with a computer has the capability—with a certain skill set—to break into my house without coming close to a door or window. Anyone with questionable morals and a laptop can infect my computer with trolls, viruses, and Trojan horses, making my life miserable and posing the potential of missed deadlines.

Electronic mischief is pervasive and leaders should work fervently to solve these problems, hunt down and indict evildoers and develop safeguards for those of us who use technology only for good.

But an even bigger issue lurks in the shadows of our digitized civilization.

Selfies.

I am opposed to selfies. As a matter of full disclosure, I must admit to having performed a few selfies of my own, in moments of weakness and before realizing the destructive potential of these insidious expressions of narcissism. Reviewing these images on my cell phone has convinced me of my folly and persuaded me that the act of self-photography is little more than a plea for attention, an arrogant pronouncement of egocentricity—and really awful pictures.

Selfies could be the bellwether of a decaying society. History shows that when a civilization turns inward, becoming self-aggrandizing, it is well on its way down that slippery slope to wrack and ruin.

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A recent report on national television revealed what may be early signs of this impending social decay. Apparently, it has become “the thing” for teenagers to post selfies onto social media outlets and then count the number of “likes” they engender. Anything less than 100 likes results in a crushing blow to the selfie poster’s self-esteem—selfie-esteem, if you will. Teens have enough self-esteem issues without using digital imagery to add more.

Adults are not immune. One has only to check social media outlets to view their “friends,” most of whom they never see in person, displayed on their pages in photos taken from angles not meant for photography. Trust me, no one wants to look up your nose or down your throat.

A better option is to have a live friend take a tasteful photograph, from an advantageous angle, preferably while you are doing something of interest or at least celebrating a birthday, an anniversary or the Chicago Cubs winning a pennant. Even then, be discerning. Over-posting is over-sharing.

I realize that this view may ruffle some feathers. So be it. Perhaps Thomas Jefferson said it best: “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary…” one must speak out. No more selfies. And, for the record, my selfie photos turned out quite unsatisfactorily. My hair is not that white and my face is not that wrinkled.

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