Self(ie) Portrait


In Oscar Wilde`s 1890 novel “The Picture of Dorian Grey”, the protagonist sells his soul to ensure that he will remain young and beautiful and only his painted likeness will age and fade. It is a fable of narcissism and vanity. Grey lives a life of debauchery. He is free from responsibility, conscience and does not possess a moral compass. He is a libertine who cares little for others and is entitled, boorish and arrogant. However he is feted by society due to his dazzling beauty.


Today the opposite appears to be happening. The surface, rather than the substance of a person`s life is feted on social media. The “optics” on their profile are the prime consideration. The obsessive desire to capture and curate the best photographs has cost lives. In the last 5 years over 200 people have died from accidents like falling whilst they were in the process of taking “selfies”. All that remains from these unfortunate people`s lives are the pictures of their youth and beauty rather than the meaning from their inner lives.

In contrast to this, the more naive or inexpert visuals receive less validation. If a person`s timeline features fewer of these visuals and more content of a socially conscious nature then inevitably this evokes more negativity and the familiar insult of “virtue signalling”, no matter how heartfelt the sentiment actually is. I believe that more focus should be placed upon the substance of things.

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