Hey guys! Look at me. Look at me! This is me on a beach in Bali. And this is me, with some guy on the beach in Bali. And that’s a picture Mark took of me taking a picture of me, but I deleted the one I was actually taking because the bags under my eyes were, like, huge. And this is me, also in Bali. And this is me*….
A quick pic here and there I understand, but I just don’t get it, this incessant selfie thing.
And I see so much of it: travellers who turn their journeys into selfie-shoots and forget to take any notice of where they are. They’ll have to download their images before they discover what a place looks like – and by then it will be too late to savour that languid sensation of saltwater drying on their skin. Or to realise that the sunsets seem to linger longer the farther you are from the equator. Or to ask the name of the woman who cooked that crazy-hot Thai meal they posted all over Facebook. Or to truly appreciate that first sip of a cold cocktail on a balmy evening, before the ice melts and dilutes the flavour.
It will be too late to pause, even for just a moment, to breathe in the air of a foreign land and begin to understand the soul of a place. I’ve seen a thousand selfies, and not one has captured that.
I’m working on a story about cancer survivors at the moment, which is why “limited time” is now so much on my mind. And one question I’ve asked cancer survivors is the same as one I always want to ask habitual selfie-snappers: if you knew how limited your time was, what would you do differently?
*If you really want to know: this was me, on Friday evening posing for Mark, who’d been commissioned to take a photograph of a woman taking a selfie. We were both so caught up taking photos of someone taking a photo at sunset, that we actually missed the sunset. The sunset shot behind the pics of me? That was taken the evening before, on a beach stroll where we stopped and sat a while, watching the waves, the wind in the trees, and noticing the shadows change. I’ll remember that walk a long, long time.