Wearing a face that she keeps in the jar by the door. Who is it for?
The Beatles is one of those background bands for me: influential, almost immeasurably successful, perhaps even timeless, but not one I usually seek out. The ironic thing is that I’m usually more of a fan of covers of Beatles music than them singing their own songs: John Farnham’s take on Help is the true version of that song for me, and Sarah McLachlan’s version of Blackbird resonates more substantially more the original, as well.
Regardless of whether or not I listen to them regularly, many of their songs were insightful, but perhaps none more so than Eleanor Rigby, the song of a lonely old woman who puts on a face to make herself look younger when she faces the world.
Interpreted into the modern age, some of the mood of Eleanor Rigby could be seen as a reflection on the selfie. The self-taken photo.
I know a few people in particular who seem to get quite worked up about the selfie: they don’t understand it, they see it as uninspired narcissism or attention seeking, and deride those who take regular selfies.
We grow up hearing a picture is worth a thousand words. And there’s truth to that. Words require language to process, so regardless of how emotional they may be, there’s a logical, cognitive process to them. Pictures can speak straight to our emotions. A visibly sad photo can resonate faster than the words “I am sad”. Indeed, with words it’s often necessary to compound it (“I am profoundly sad”), or offer context (“I’m profoundly sad because…”).
The selfie speaks straight to our emotions, but it also speaks straight from our emotions, too. Like Eleanor Rigby’s face beside the door, the selfie says this is how I want the world to see me. Sometimes that’s raw and honest, and sometimes it’s an interpreted view.
Regardless, it’s us. The selfie is a pictorial statement of this is who I am, or this is important to me.
Not the observer.
Not every selfie is a happy one. Not every selfie is an original one. And not every selfie is an inspiring piece of art. But you can be guaranteed of one thing: every selfie you see meant something to the person who took it.