The Age of "You're Doing It Wrong"

I am sitting here this morning watching +TODAY on NBC and I noticed a segment talking about selfies and a documentary that is showing how they are helping girls and their mothers boost their self esteem. The director, Cynthia Wade, encouraged the women to take their digital self-portraits without using any filters or image alteration.

Before the segment, +Carson Daly did a great job of demonstrating the differences between our definition and understanding of beauty with a simple Google image search. Carson simply searched Google Images for “beauty” and then did the same on +Instagram. The difference was obvious, Google showed us what the media wants us to think beauty is whereas the hashtag on Instagram showed not a bunch of glamour models, actresses or Photoshopped makeup ads, just a myriad of selfies showing beautiful individual smiles.

There was a popular opinion for a while that taking a selfie was a narcissistic behavior. We were warned by generations before us that we were so self-loving and needed to focus on what was important, and spending less time trying to share every moment of our lives. I’m not sure if you all felt that way, but over the last few years, I saw I bias between generations. The ones before us did not understand or appreciate the self-discovery of the later generations.

As a millennial, I am watching some incredible things unfold. I was the first generation to learn computer programming grade school BASIC, LOGO, I was the first generation to experience mainstream social media before it made it into public domain (Facebook) and now one the generations to fully experience the digital-to-analog transformation.

During this revolution is a new wave of transparency. People now exchange their thoughts, ideas and opinions more openly through social media than they ever have before. Some hide behind anonymous cloaks and others declare their thoughts openly. Regardless of how, so many people have been preaching the essence of this one phrase that just drives me wild, “you’re doing it wrong.”

Whether or not their might be a better way to accomplish something in order to attain ones own goals, it doesn’t mean that we all share the same goals. Just because something doesn’t work for you, doesn’t mean you should caution all others against it.

To all of those that say “you’re doing it wrong,” I offer you this one piece of advice: you’re doing it wrong.

Allow others to try things, shape their own opinions, learn from their discoveries and share what they learn. In this case, something that was condemned as narcissism (taking selfies) has transformed into a way to let people appreciate their own beauty, realize that we are all different and celebrate those differences.

My differences? When I was a teenager I had terrible acne. I still deal with some of it today. My teeth? Stained from years of smoking. In fact, I just learned yesterday that they will never be Hollywood white and I’m fine with that. My hair? Fine as you could imagine and gray as #AAAAAA in some places. My eyes? Horrible astigmatism and myopia.

You know what? This is me, and I’m pretty cool with that. I may not be Hollywood’s definition of beautiful, but I’m beautiful to someone, and that’s all that matters. If you don’t like my photo, get over it.

If you don’t think I should be taking pictures of myself, then think about this: the Internet is a place where we can connect with billions of people from the around the world. Unfortunately, 99% of this communication is through text. Unlike a face-to-face conversation, you never get to see my face. Facial expressions alone compose the majority of non-verbal communication.

My point? You can learn a lot from someone’s selfie.