Commentary: Are we all victims of the selfie virus?

Image courtesy of TechPP.

LOGAN – While attending a concert the other night, it occurred to me that America must be suffering from an epidemic of memory loss.

Back in September of 1973, I saw one of Jim Croce’s last concerts before the legendary singer/songwriter died in a plane crash. It was a very low-key affair. Croce came out on a bare stage, sat on a chair and smoked, joked and sang for an hour or so.

That was it. But I still remember every note of that very informal concert and I don’t need a selfie posted on Facebook to recall it.

I was alone at the recent concert by country music songwriters Brad and Brett Warren at the Ellen Eccles Theatre. Don’t ask me how a person with a calendar on her cell phone can end up triple-booked on a single evening, but my better half had managed to do that.

Waiting for the concert to start, I amused myself by watching the audience. In a period of five minutes, I must have seen fifty couples take selfie photos with their smart phones.

I’m certain that those probably not very good photos have already been posted on Facebook or sent to family and friends to preserve the moment for posterity. That assumes, of course, that posterity is bored enough to care that those couples were at a Warren brothers (“Who?”) concert in Logan (“Where?”) on such and such night.

But are we really all so forgetful that we need these selfies to remind us what we’ve done and where we’ve been?

I’ve become ruefully accustomed to seeing young folks from the Generation Z and millennial crowds digitally recording every facet of their lives. A couple weeks ago, I almost tripped over a couple capturing their arrival at Angie’s Restaurant on a Saturday morning. What an historic moment, huh?

But most of the audience at the Warren brothers concert this past weekend were Summer Citizens from the Baby Boom generation. Have we survived COVID-19 only to be infected by the selfie virus?

Do you think I’m just being an old fuddy duddy about this? In the interest of full disclosure, I am an old fuddy duddy. But I’m not the only one who finds this current obsession with taking selfies to be a little creepy.

The folks at Samsung recently commissioned a study of phone habits in America that estimated that the average U.S. smart phone user will take 25,ooo selfies in a lifetime. I’m not sure that I want to know how they reached that conclusion.

Personally, I blame this selfie scourge on the clueless computer engineers who first suggested sticking a camera into a cell phone.

Back in the good old days – I mean the 1990s – a cell phone was just a phone. It didn’t take photos. It didn’t play music or videos. It didn’t send text messages. Your phone didn’t have a digital pixie living in it that answered inane questions. And no one had ever heard of an app.

Nowadays, however, a smart phone that just made calls would be considered pretty dumb.

Take my wife’s iPhone, for example. Please take it!

That supposedly-convenient little device costs about as much as my first used car, weighs a couple pounds and feels like a brick in your hand.

While her iPhone has more computing power than the entire National Aeronautics and Space Administration had when it sent men to the moon, its memory space is mostly filled with poorly composed photos that would undoubtedly have been better taken with a genuine camera.

Remember cameras? They were like cell phones that only took pictures.

If we’ve really reached the stage where we all need digital images to jog our memories, perhaps the solution to the selfie scourge isn’t smarter phones, but smarter people.

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