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Since You Never Asked: 'Selfie, Schmelfie'


If you stop by Lake Effect’s website, you can see pictures of each of our contributors.  That includes essayist Jonathan West, who would like to point that he did not take the picture of himself:

Since you never asked…

…I’m not good looking enough to curate a gallery of Jonathan West selfies. Besides, I almost always look like I need a shave, and who really needs to see that?

I’m an average looking Joe. You know, not super model gorgeous or bag-over-the-head ugly--somewhere in-between. Sort of like 99.9% percent of the population which also happens to be the same exact percentage of men, women and children who keep extending an arm as they try to lock onto the perfect angle for erasing double chins before sucking in some cheek fat and snapping a selfie.

Excuse me while I pull a cardigan around my shoulders and whither into an old man, but remember the good old days? Remember when it was nearly impossible to jump in front of your instamatic camera to get a good automatically developed picture to tack to the bulletin board at work so your coworkers could marvel at your fresh new perm?  Remember when none of us knew who the Kardashians were or why spirited young Kim felt her charmed backside needed its own photo series? Remember when the term selfie was probably just some code word that made 13-year-old boys giggle? I remember those Halcyon days while I flip through the yellowed pages of one of 76 photo albums cramping every inch of my living space.  Then again I also remember having to get out of a chair to select one of the three channels broadcasting the nightly news and bowling shows.  Remember, I’m old.

I am realistic enough to know that GQ is never going to put my face on its cover. That said, I also am able to claim the monumental high school bragging rights of having snagged dates to three successive proms back when I was a hormonal teen. Three proms, I tell you…that sort of dance card does wonders for a chubby young fella’s bravado. But even with that sort of residual swagger, I’ve never felt the need to broadcast my face for the world to see.  You want some of this mug, you’re gonna have to invite it to lunch and offer it a very big corned beef sandwich.

If I was the sort of guy who went around turning the camera on himself, I’d at least try to do it with my own arm. I don’t get selfies, but I don’t double-triple-ifinity get selfie sticks. Using a selfie stick to take your picture is like using the pointer finger of the guy sitting next to you at the coffee shop to pick your nose. When you care enough to use a selfie stick you also care enough to tell the world, “Hey, look I’m taking a picture of myself so you’ll always know what I’d look like if you were 8 feet tall.” It’s not inconceivable that a selfie stick could have some practical use, of course.  In fact I can imagine a selfie stick could prove quite handy to knock something out of someone’s hands.  Something like…oh…I don’t know…a selfie stick, maybe?

Selfie schmelfie, I say. Selfers who must forever snap solo shots are literally not looking beyond the tip of their noses. Take a peek around at the people you’re bumping elbows with in the best and worst moments of your life. That’s when turning the camera around at your face starts to get exciting. I’m all for the “doublie” the “triplie” or even the highly complicated and difficult to organize “dozenie”. Suck it in, smile, mash into the shot with your friends, say cheese, and I’m all in. But, for goodness sake, if you get me in the shot, shoot me from above, okay?  That’s my good side.

Jonathan West is a writer, actor, director, and the outgoing Pfister Narrator in Milwaukee.