Save Yourselfies

There’s a popular adage that reminds humans the best course of action when interacting with nature is to “Take only pictures. Leave only footprints. Kill only time.” But apparently, we can’t even manage that anymore.

Last week, an unfortunate baby dolphin, more specifically an endangered species known as a La Plata or Franciscana dolphin, was plucked out of the ocean and onto an Argentinian beach. The reason? People wanted to pet and take selfies with it.

Yes, selfies. With a dolphin. On land.

Video footage of the incident shows a ever-growing mob of people surrounding the poor little thing, cameras at the ready. According to Peter Holley at The Washington Times, “At no point in the footage does it appear that anyone in the crowd intervened or attempted to return the animal to the water,” and eventually, the dolphin died from dehydration. But it didn’t stop there. People kept on snapping pictures of its corpse and then left it to rot in the damp, trampled sand. How does something like this happen?

 

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We have all seen the reports that women spend somewhere around five hours a week taking, editing, and posting selfies on social media. But that doesn’t mean guys are blameless. Of the one million selfies—yes ONE MILLION selfies—taken each day, men are responsible for about half. And these snapshots do so add up. All told, according to a recent survey, the average millennial could take up to 25,700 selfies in his or her lifetime.

Think about that for a minute. 25,700 pictures of one person. Sweet heck.

Van Gogh only painted 30 or so self portraits. Rembrandt left us about 90. Frida created 55. If it was sufficient for three of the greatest artists in history to create fewer than 100 images each, you’d think we could survive with a couple thousand or so of ourselves. And by making the comparison, I’m not saying that the self-portrait and the selfie share much common ground. For Van Gogh and Frida, self portraits were a way of exploring their inner demons and giving voice to their pain. For us? We’ll take a selfie just to show how on fleek our eyebrows are or to give ourselves gravitas at serious places like Ground Zero, the Holocaust Memorial, or a funeral.

Frida Kahlo, The Broken Column, 1944, Oil on canvas mounted on masonite, 40 x 30,7 cm, Museum Dolores Olmedo Patino, Mexico-City, Mexico.
Frida Kahlo, The Broken Column, 1944, Oil on canvas mounted on masonite, 40 x 30,7 cm, Museum Dolores Olmedo Patino, Mexico-City, Mexico.

Aldous Huxley said, “Technological progress has merely provided us with more efficient means for going backwards.” And I’d have to agree. We’d like to think we’re a cut above our ancestors, but I firmly believe that if the patrician class had had the means to take them, museums would be full of selfies with the Roman Colosseum in the background. (Along with necessary hashtags like #Lions4TheWin #ChristianItsWhatsForDinner #HailCaesar #BreadAndCircuses4Life) At least they took the time to watch the “entertainment” being provided. We can’t quite manage to stop taking pictures of ourselves long enough to watch nine innings of baseball. We’re too busy being the deities of our own 4.7 inch universes to be bothered to take in the beauty around us or *gasp* interact with people.

Now, rather than drink deeply and fully imbibe this thing called life, we frantically try to capture “the perfect moment” on phones. Why bother? There is no camera better than the human eye, no file more detailed than one stored in a human mind. Yet we keep scrambling for our devices, recording our lives rather than living them. How many of us have missed a gorgeous sunset because we were too busy trying to frame it up correctly to post on Instagram? How many fireworks shows have we only seen slivers of because we have to make sure we had something perfect for Vine? How long before we realize the hundreds of images we’re collecting of ourselves our limited worlds are keeping us from enjoying the greater (and much more interesting) places we inhabit? Maybe we don’t want to. Maybe we can’t bear the thought of not being the center of the universe.

The Swiss playwright and novelist Max Frisch, who was keen to explore once said that technology was nothing more than “the knack of so arranging the world that we don’t have to experience it.” And for the life of me, I don’t know why we’re willing to make such a poor trade. I’d much rather be the elderly woman at the Black Mass premier than the other folks around her. She’ll have a memory of that red-carpet night that’s more exciting and detailed than anything captured on camera.

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But maybe that’s how moments like the one on that Argentinian beach happen. People get so absorbed in the egocentric crush to capture what makes them unique that they’re willing to sacrifice anything to make it happen. After all, it isn’t just a photograph they’re taking; it’s proof of life.

I Think My Cat’s A Fluffy Nudist

I know all pets have….quirks. Some more so than others. For instance, I once owned a dog named Twinkie who liked to eat bubblegum. Shadow, my dog who passed away, used to bury food if we didn’t feed it to him in small bites. Anything huge, and he’d try to find a place to hide it in case hard times came again. Old stray survival habits die hard I guess. He even buried ice cubes, which he loved to eat when he was a pup. No fooling.

Baker, however, takes the catnip laden cake when it comes to oddball. A true 11 out of 10 on the Weird Pet-o-Meter.

First off, I think he suffers from narcolepsy. He just collapses in a fuzzy heap whenever the urge strikes him, and when he does, he usually ends up sleeping on his back with his paws in tight kitty fists.

Comfy couch or hard, unforgiving coffee table—it makes no difference apparently!!

This is a rare moment when he passed out right side up.

More often than not, he looks like this….

He views people as his own private furniture. But I think that’s pretty much standard operating procedure for a cat.

We believe he’s trying to do an impression of a comma when he lays this way. Oftentimes, after assuming this position, he will use his claws for purchase and drag himself across the floor like Arnold Schwarzenegger in the final scene of The Terminator.

We really should have named him “Oxford”–both for the punctuation-shaped pose and for the color scheme (like Oxford shoes!)–but we named him Baker because he likes to “make biscuits” or “knead” with his paws when he’s happy.

He’s also been caught sitting on more than one occasion. He looks like a drunk sitting outside a bar in a spaghetti western when he does this.

So, yeah, my cat collapses like a flan in a cupboard. If that weren’t weird enough, the only time you’re guaranteed uninterrupted time to pet him is when you’re using the bathroom. For some reason, he wants to be thoroughly petted when there’s a toilet involved.

When he jumps into your lap or onto a piece of furniture, he looks like Kramer entering a room on Seinfeld. And the harder you pet his butt, the more he likes you.

He also tries to get away from the vacuum cleaner by going in four different directions….at once. He knocks himself over when he sneezes, and he tries to “hide” from us, forgetting that if we can see his fluffy butt sticking out from under a pile of pillows, he’s not invisible.

He likes to be made into the bed…both under the fitted sheet and under piles of blankets. He’s fond of sticking his nose in right up against your mouth, but you can’t get up in his grill. He’s a hypocrite like that.

But the newest thing involves his collar. He’s learned how to take it off. Not because it’s too tight mind you. He’s worn it since the day we adopted him and has not protested one iota. (By the way, we got him “reduced for quick sale” from the Fayette County Humane Society. He was the “Star of the Week,” so his adoption fee was half price and we got a sweet bag of goodies including a pound of gourmet pet food, a huge water dish, and a ton of treats and toys. They practically paid us to take him, which was pretty swell. As weird as he is, he’s a perfect fit for us…and he was a bargain. I only wish I could find a way to harvest his fur and knit sweaters out of it like they do with alpacas. But I digress.)

No, he now takes his collar off because he likes to play with it. He slides it across the kitchen floor.

He throws it in the air, dances with it, and chases it around the house until it gets wedged under a piece of furniture.

I’ve found it in two dozen different places around the house. Ranging from his own food dish….

…and outside the litter box, left behind like a pair of discarded socks.

Believe me, he’s not hurting for gewgaws. There’s an entire box of jingle balls, fluffy mice, rattles, crinkle toys, and other assorted feline delights in addition to TWO scratch pads in the house. One has a ball that runs around it, and the other is an Emory Cat. We buy quality crap for our cats, that much is for sure. You can do that when you don’t have kids. You can also indulge in frivolous things…like sleep, adult conversation, and clean clothes.

However, despite the bountiful cornucopia of cat-related paraphernalia around the place, he takes his collar off to play with it. That’s what I keep telling myself at least. Otherwise, I have to admit that my cat is a fluffy nudist who gets his jollies from being “nekkid” around the house.