James Franco's Selfie Essay in 'New York Times' Might Be Brilliant, But Probably Isn't
Obama does it, Franco does it, and you probably do, too. Selfies are the newest confounding iteration of social media self-obsession and the New York Times is hell-bent on uncovering the reasoning behind it. Which is why the Times (home of only the best trend pieces), looked to James Franco be their voice of reason for the illogical nature of youth activities today. Probably because Andy Rooney was too busy complaining about the temperature control options on his cloud in the afterlife.
The increasing desperation the world-at-large has over its need to understand the selfie reached critical capacity with Franco's diatribe "The Meanings of the Selfie," where the multi-hyphenate spent nearly 800 words cluing us in on the subtle nuances of camera phone images of the self. Which are, according to him, more than just hopping on the good ship Digital Narcissism in the name of validation and/or boredom. No, they are a way of really seeing people and communicating feelings via images instead of words in a world where the importance and significance of the written language is being cut ever-shorter.
As a new way of seeing people, posits Franco, looking at a photo of someone's angled eyes and face is exactly the same as actually looking at them IRL (that's short for "in real life," Times editors). And lest you are skeptical to believe him, let it be known that Franco is obsessive enough to understand how and why what works and what doesn't. Because he's "increasingly addicted" to Instagram and noticed that he gets more likes for pictures of his face than his work, you see. Plus he's a celebrity and celebrities love selfies. So he totally gets it. Even if he's not taking into consideration how much people just really like to look at his face nearly enough.
Obligated to over-think it in the name of getting published in the Times, Franco insists that there must be more to selfies than all that. Because selfies are some of the most popular social media posts among the normals in the world, too! It must be that these regular folk find some meaning in them beyond just wasting time and doing what everyone else is doing because its the thing to do now, right? It couldn't possibly be just because we're all awash in a sea of noise hoping to get some sort of attention that validates the idea that we are a person in the world that matters — even if its only for the millisecond it took the liker to press a heart button.
It doesn't matter that the Insta heart trivializes everything and signifies nothing, or that in an increasingly hyper-connected digital universe, we've forgotten to go out into the world and, you know, figure out who and what we are based on action rather than artifice. Because when you take a selfie, you show your totally truest and most honest self to the world. Duh.
Images: You Guessed It, JamesFranco/Instagram