“Father? Are you a righty, lefty or fronty?” Sam asked.
“Fronty?” That was the first time I heard the word.
“I’m more of a righty, Sam. But I use my left to cut meat, and this confuses people to think I’m a lefty.” I simply played along even though the word ‘fronty’ continued tickling my curiosity.
“No, I meant, when you take pictures?” He clarified.
“Yes, when you take selfies of yourself?” Sam said.
“Personally, I’m not a selfie taker,” I shrugged my shoulders.
“So how do you take pictures of yourself then,” he scratched his head.
“I ask a friendly to take it for me?”
“Friendly?” He said.
“Someone else, who would do it for me,” I laughed.
* * * * * *
We are living in a selfie world! One can, as I later learned, take it from either the left or right angles, or the so-called lefty and the righty modes. And the fronty, for those who take a shot of themselves up front.
The episode with Sam reminded me about a boy called Yang-Yang, in the movie Yi Yi by Edward Yang. One day, Yang-Yang got a camera and excitedly began shooting at everyone and everything. His father was a bit surprised because his son took very unusual pictures: close up of mosquitoes, flies, and other things. Yang-Yang’s dad dismissed all this as a youngster’s attempt at avant-garde art.
But Yang-Yang’s most striking shots were the back of his dad, siblings and relatives. When he was asked why he liked taking pictures of people from behind, he replied it was what they normally do not see. I thought how appropriate these words of Yang-Yang are for today’s selfie generation.
The selfie trend, further enhanced by specialized gadgets for the purpose, is a demonstration of man’s historical nature. We take pictures and videos because we treasure these moments and wish to always have them with us. Moreover, technology helps us to replay them and share them. Even though some may view the selfie trend as egocentric, we cannot blame man for his natural desire to establish a ‘personal memorabilia’ of life’s goodness and beauty.
But, going back to Yang-Yang’s photographic slant, it may be opportune to ask ourselves if our selfie world is missing out on something more important? If we are actually only capable of seeing or snapping at what’s in front of us and not what’s behind? That is, do we at least realize that here are certain essential real-ities in life that our smartphones cannot capture or embrace?
Deep within every person’s historical yearnings, there is also a longing for eternity and its healing consequences. It is when we undoubtedly have to pause, to let go of the things we have and control. It is when we allow our fragile selfies to be cradled by Someone and not the things of a passing world.
It is then that we fall on our knees. In silence or whispers we say a heartfelt prayer. We begin to accept what we are suffering or have suffered. Abandoning ourselves, with more humility and love, to the One who all along was behind us. He was always there, silent, patient, forgiving and loving. Waiting for us to turn around to face Him, and allow Him to capture us with His Fatherly love.