We currently live in an era of instant self-gratification. We want to have the perfect picture of our day, trip, or relationship. Once taken, it’s edited to perfection before we can post it on social media with a million hashtags and the perfect caption. While there’s claims from those who say that our narcissism is leading us to the decline of Western civilization, the truth is that if we look at cave paintings and sculptures such as the Venus of Willendorf, it’s clear that we have always been fascinated with capturing a moment or an idea we find beautiful.
While we are all equally at risk of falling victims to this disorder, nobody can help being a little self-centered. Our predisposition to storytelling makes us feel like our life is a story unfolding before our very eyes. So yes, that person fiddling with the selfie stick with their backs to a canyon probably feels this is the highlight of chapter 450 of their life’s tale. But this is no different than what several famous artists have done as well when they’ve included their own image in their works. But while it’s okay to have a few narcissistic tendencies, we should probably take a moment and consider how our actions affect the world around us.
Here are a few ways your self-indulgence might be hurting the world around you:
When your beautiful face is clogging the ocean
According to the United Kingdom’s environmental audit committee, “About 86 tonnes of microplastics are released into the environment every year in the UK from facial exfoliants alone.” This means that each time you wash your face with these products, which are also found in toothpaste and showers gels, you are sending plastic down the drain. These drains eventually lead to the ocean, and these pieces disrupt the natural processes of marine life. Microbeads particularly are ingested by animals and are also incredibly difficult to retrieve from the water. You don’t need these little bits of plastic to look your best. Look for alternatives that include natural exfoliants such as sugar, salt, or coffee.
That cool beans coffee cup will only last for that sip
There’s nothing like stopping by your favorite shop for a cup of java in the morning. Having that paper cup in your hand is more relaxing than a quick trip to the spa. We don’t see them as polluting elements because they’re paper. They’ll be recycled, right? Most of them contain a particular lining made out of plastic. This makes the process of recycling them way more complicated. There are several companies trying to find an eco-friendly alternative. However, the best idea is to bring your own tumbler mug. You won’t look as cool, but you’ll get your dose of caffeine without bringing consequences to the environment.
Your cool outfit will only last for so long
With each visit to the mall, you encounter endless possibilities of finding the perfect dress for your night out. You have a particular price in mind so you know where to go. It looks nice at first, but then, after a couple of washes and the season’s trend becoming old news, you throw it in the bag of clothes you’ll donate to some organization. Here’s the thing: most of those clothes are too flimsy for anyone to want them. The frocks you give away go through an entire journey before they become part of a landfill. Many of the fabrics of wallet-friendly outfits are not made from natural fibers, so it will take a long time before they decompose, not to mention that each time you place them in the washing machine there are plastic fibers that find their way to rivers and oceans. Next time you want to look your best, search for deals on high quality items made with materials like cotton and linen.
That awesome picture with that cute animal is kind of disturbing
We all want to snap that pic with a beautiful wildlife creature. But what are the consequences of that quick selfie? While we find it adorable, every time we take an animal out of its natural habitat and force it to become an accessory to the lifestyle we wish to portray on our social media, we are putting their and our lives at risk. People who go into turtle nests for a souvenir might end up preventing turtles from laying eggs. Carelessly taking a marine animal out of the water for a hashtag could also result in death. It’s best to admire them from afar rather than forcing them to be part of our lifestyle.
We are all guilty of being clueless or insensitive at some point. However, we can start holding ourselves accountable for our actions in order to see the effect we have in the world. Perhaps the cure for our narcissism lies in understanding just how much we impact the environment and the world around us. When we realize how we can all be part of the solution to the current devastation in our planet, we no longer need to try to stand out so much. The real protagonists of Earth are its oceans, forests, deserts, and mountains. When we start looking at them instead of ourselves, we begin to see the bigger picture, one that is too large to fit on any selfie.