having faith in the selfie…,

The rise of The Selfie is fascinating for anyone involved in human sciences, it’s as if the actual function of social media hasc4af9de4c2b05b31d94711e1514fa0bc finally been realised. Earlier today I was reading a discussion between Grigroy and Smerdyakov in Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov on the nature of faith. Essentially, Grigory was arguing that faith is a selfless act of love, a genuine giving of oneself to god. Smerdyakov, on the other hand, was arguing that faith is a set of rituals that people go through in order to attain salvation, as such he was arguing that faith is actually a selfish act. This may seem a rather abstract debate in relation to the rise of the selfie, but there’s a direct line between 19th century Russian theoretical discussion and the Instagram duck face.

The carrying of religious icons is common throughout history and across many religions, such icons can range from large statues down to miniaturised portraits set in jewellery or pocket pieces. The religious icon is a representation of a religious signifier, e.g. a picture of a saint or a scene from the bible. As the popularity of carrying religious icons has decreased the posting of pictures of self has increased. The Selfie is now worn by many in their identifying locales (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, etc) just as the religious icon was worn in the past.

People used to carry religious icons as a symbol of faith in their god, or as an act to bolster their faith. Today the Selfie cameron-obama-selfiesymbolises faith in self, or a need to bolster faith in self (indeed there are apps which can make your selfie look more attractive !). It seems that faith has moved from an externalised affirmation of our position in the universe in relation to God, to an internalised affirmation of individualist self importance.

Self belief replaces external belief, it seems that Smerdyakov was right all along !

woman takes selfie in front of suicide


About danieltrump

breathing and sensing human. Learning to observe, learning to write, exploring ideas and thinking. www.danieltrump.wordpress.com


  1. People that have self belief aspire to live with it in a quiet and confident manner … always in a humble way. As for the Selfie it seems to be an external need for validation. An extremely time relevant post for today linked with other times. Literature helps to encapsulate a cultural and religious belief that underpins in-temporal ideas. Thank you.

  2. There’s some statistical analysis of the ‘selfie’ coming thanks to data-mining efforts now too: http://icnt.mx/2014/02/science-selfies/

    • That’s an amazing website! Thanks for the link, I’m going to spend some time exploring that site. Data on who is taking more selfies will tell us more about the human condition. Thanks for taking the time to read my blog, and for your contribution. It’s much appreciated.

  3. Couldn’t it be said that the “selfie,” is art, as well? If we take art to mean “artificial?” I believe Socrates and Aristotle started this debate (as did many others, of course, with their schools of literary criticism; dare I mention Saussure’s theory? There, mentioned. I need a full stomach to discuss it). Self-indulgent, self-conscious, self-loathing, screaming, “INSECURE,” perhaps, but the same could be said of creative non-fiction, memoir, fiction–writing, in general, acting, stand-up comedy, poetry, singing, sculpture, etc. All are representations of something, would you agree? As for faith, yes, selfies, along with all other forms of art, show faith, or striving for faith, in their creator and/or Creator, if one believes in the latter. And I have to disagree with the first commenter’s assertion that those with self belief “aspire to live it in a quiet and confident manner…always in a humble way.” Speaking for myself, as an agnostic, I strive to grow faith in myself and have faith in those I count among my friends and family…loved ones. I doubt anyone would describe me as quiet or humble or confident, all the time, at least, nor in my writing or other “skills” still (always) in development.

    Sounds like a good topic for a research paper or long article…

    • I agree that the selfie is a form of art, defining art as designed for consumption. I think the difference between the selfie & some of the other forms of art that you mention may be in the motivation or intention of the artist. Or, it may just be that I’m an ageing snob who’s out of touch!

      Thanks for taking the time to read, and to comment, it is much appreciated.

      • Whatever. Forget it. I thought I’d give it one more try but stimulating discussions are indeed over. I must really disgust you. Yeah, I’d say out of touch and snob, but childish, not aging. Peace.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: