The Selfishness of Selfies

What’s worse than not being tech-savvy enough to successfully roll out Healthcare.gov?  Being tech-savvy enough to take a selfie at Nelson Mandela’s funeral.

Big O once again finds himself in some hot water among his critics after posing for a playful photo with British PM David Cameron and Danish PM Someone You’ve Never Heard Of.  As if jokingly posing for a picture at the memorial service of one of the greatest leaders in modern history weren’t bad enough, this photo was – get this – taken by the very same people who were in it.  O no!

2013 truly was the year of the selfie.  After all, the Oxford English Dictionary named it the Word of the Year (it beat out “twerk,” but don’t worry, Miley, there’s always next year).  The latest in Obama’s recent run of minor scandals is just icing on the cake for the self-centered method of taking pics.

Putting aside the obvious questions of why three of the most powerful people in the world couldn’t find some intern to snap the picture for them, or why people at a major media event need to take their own photos at all, the real question is does it matter that the photo was a selfie?

Would anyone be criticizing Our Fearless Leader if he’d just taken a moment to ask Michelle to take the picture on his iPhone (you know O isn’t a Droid user)?  The answer has got to be no.  People are upset not by the fact that the Prez was palling around with his chums from across the pond, but by the fact that he had the gall to extend his lanky left arm and snap a picture of himself doing it.  Doesn’t he realize that my taxes pay for that arm?!

Whether it’s a fair categorization or not, to most people selfie = selfish.  It’s the ultimate expression of self- absorption to decide that the world needs a picture of you, regardless of whether anyone else is interested enough to take it.  So when critics attack Big O for this photo they’re really attacking what they perceive as an excess of ego; it’s what the McCain/Palin Campaign referred to as Obama’s “celebrity.”  That’s always been an unfair criticism, but when you’re attending the funeral of one of the least selfish political leaders in history you probably should tone it down just a bit.  Mandela probably never took a selfie, but if he had I bet he would have waited until he wasn’t at a funeral to do it.  Context matters.

Still, the outrage is a little ridiculous — the Obamacare website is up and running, so people need something to get all worked up about.  President’s can ratify and veto laws, they can appoint Supreme Court justices, and they can send troops off to die in god-forsaken countries without justification, but when they take pictures of themselves, well, then they have our attention.  I guess the President just has to be wary of doing anything that no President has done before.  “If the Kardashians do it, the Prez probably shouldn’t” seems like a good rule of thumb.

I can’t wait to see Hillary twerkin’ on the campaign trail in 2016.

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