Is new president simply a reflection of selfie-obsessed society?

Laura K. Silver is a trustee of the Jewish Light who writes a blog for the paper’s website (stljewishlight.com/laura). Laura is married and the mother of two middle school age children.

By Laura Silver

As I reflect on our most recent election, I’m beginning to wonder: Is it really that surprising that we ended up with Donald Trump?  

Don’t worry, I’m not about to engage in yet another political debate.  Whether you lean right or left is irrelevant for purposes of this discussion.  What I’m asking is, is it any wonder we ended up with a narcissist?

One of my all-time favorite quotes comes from Olin Miller: “We would worry less about what others think of us if we realized how seldom they do.”  I used to believe it was fundamentally true. I always said that if someone had nothing better to do than talk about me, they must be really hurting for material. 

That was before social media. The truth is, people think about us a lot more than they once did because now we make sure of it.

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Recently, my roommate from freshman year of college called me on FaceTime.  We took a drive down memory lane, as I pulled out photos from our first year of college and held them up to the camera for her to see. In total, we probably went through about 20 pictures, laughing at each one as we recalled stories about the people contained in them.   

Twenty photos over the course of a year? These days, that seems unfathomable.  Spend an evening with a group of middle schoolers, and you will have 20 photos in less than a minute, many of which will end up on Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook and who knows what else?  

We view this behavior as normal.  Is it?  Or are we raising individuals who think it’s normal and so it becomes their norm?  Is it really “normal” to take photo upon photo of yourself and put it somewhere for other people to validate, to like, to give a thumbs up?  Or are we creating a society of narcissists and our next choice of a president reflects just a little bit of who we have become?

I think it’s time to take a good, hard look at what we are doing and why.  As we embark upon four years with a man who tweets his every thought, maybe it’s time we ask ourselves if Trump is leading our country or simply mirroring it.

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