Apparently, it’s simple. You flip the camera on your phone, extend your arm and snap away. It’s not so easy for me. It takes practice, a long arm and a certain degree of confidence.
Whether you love them or hate them, avoid them or post them, selfies are here to stay. ‘Selfie’ was even selected as word of the year for 2013 by Oxford Dictionaries.
Selfies are also getting a lot of flak. People who post a lot of selfies have been accused of alienating people. They are said to be shallow and have low self-esteem because they need constant approval and are prone to superficial relationships. The selfie-obsessed seem to be down-right narcissistic. Some people go so far as to call them mentally ill. (Daily Mail)
On a more positive note, they are considered empowering. They give you an opportunity to express yourself and to show pride in your appearance. They can boost your confidence, but then you should guard against becoming dependent on the opinions of others. It also allows you to control your image. (TeenVougue)
Why selfies are like writing memoirs
A lot of the above descriptions can be applied to memoirs as well. Any well-adjusted person thinks twice before posting a selfie, but when it comes to writing a memoir it seems most of us are willing to have a go. With a selfie you can make sure your best side is showing, but with a memoir there is no place to hide. 50 000 words make lies and secrets tricky. You expose yourself in many ways and on so many levels.
I have met people who want to write a memoir to ‘bare all’. The funny thing is they avoid social media because they say it is egotistical or self-serving. Just think about that for a moment. Books are written with the hope that millions will read them. You will be exposing yourself to comment, compliment and ridicule just like the 'selfie-poster' you're berating. I am not saying you have to have a social media presence to write a memoir, but consider the similarities. Taking a selfie is also a lot easier than writing a memoir.
Three important questions to answer before writing a memoir:
- Has enough time passed? You can’t be too close to your story. You should give yourself enough time to heal. You can only write about pain once it has been dealt with. Until then, keep a journal, collect memories, make scrapbooks. You don’t know what is important yet.
- Why are you writing it? Writing a book because someone, a friend, a therapist, a spouse thinks you should is a bad idea. You must want to write it because you love writing more than anything else.
- Can you be honest? There is no Photoshop or Instagram filter for real life.
As with all things in life there is good and there is bad. There is too much and there is too little. Just think about why you are doing it and make sure you are comfortable with the reasons.
Feel free to post a Selfie and tag me. I’ll like it. I promise.
by Mia Botha
If you enjoyed this post, you may enjoy The Top 12 Quotes On Writing Memoirs
Mia Botha facilitates for Writers Write. She is also a novelist, a ghost writer, and the winner of the Mills&Boon Voice of Africa Competition. When she isn’t writing, she is the mother of two children and the wife of a very lucky man. Follow Mia on Pinterest and Facebook and Tumblr and Twitter
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