To thine own selfie be true

About a month ago, I went on a trip to North Carolina with the middle schoolers from the church where I attend.

Our church’s youth director, a 20-something young woman, does a wonderful job with the youth, and they adore her. While we were on the trip, there were several times when she pulled out a selfie stick and took photos of herself with the kids.

In the past, I’d been the type who eye-rolled at the mention of a selfie stick, but for some reason, on this trip, it seemed kind of cool. It seemed almost symbolic of her relationship with the kids.

People talk about selfie sticks as if they were a tool of narcissism, but the fact of the matter is, if you’re taking a photo of just yourself, you can do it at arm’s length. I do that occasionally — and I’m sure it’s narcissistic. As I write this, I have my favorite brand of frozen pizza in the oven, and I’ll probably take, and post, a photo of myself wearing the little punch-out handlebar mustache that comes on the back of every box. I’ve probably posted that same photo the majority of the times I’ve bought that brand of pizza. It’s goofy, and it always gets likes on Facebook.

For that matter, any time I take a selfie it gets likes on Facebook — sometimes likes I don’t want. I can recall several times when I’ve carefully crafted some meaningful, potentially world-changing blog post, only to have none of my Facebook friends see the link to it — because what they’re seeing, and commenting on, is some selfie I stupidly took and posted earlier in the day, before the muse saw fit to burden me with her golden prose.

The same thing happens when I change my Facebook profile photo. I’m active in the American Cancer Society Relay For Life, and around the time of my local Relay event I had a Relay-themed profile photo. After the event, I happened to change it back to a standard photo of myself — not a new photo (and not, in this case, a selfie) — but a headshot that I’d used as my profile photo many times before. Facebook, whether you want it to or not, always posts a notification on your behalf when you change your profile photo, and so I immediately started getting likes and comments on the profile photo as if it were new or noteworthy. Meanwhile, there was something else I’d posted the same day, something I wanted people to see, which went more or less ignored.

But I digress. Selfies are a benign form of narcissism, and I’m narcissistic for taking and posting them, not to mention for thinking that my blog posts are somehow more important than my selfies. But that’s not related to selfie sticks; true selfies can be taken without a stick. A selfie stick is a tool for taking group photos.

A couple of weeks ago, I was at an awards banquet with some co-workers, and at one point I found myself wishing for a selfie stick, so that I could take a photo of the news staff together. We eventually got someone else at our table to take a photo of all of us from the newspaper (not just the news staff), and that was perfectly fine.

Last week, however, I was looking for something on Amazon and there was a good deal, I thought, on a selfie stick. The price was good, and I ordered it almost without thinking — and without, it would seem, looking at the specs.

The stick arrived today. Most selfie sticks have some way of interfacing with the smartphone so that you can take a photo by pushing a button on the handle of the selfie stick. Some communicate by bluetooth, others — like mine — require you to plug a little cord into your phone’s headphone jack.

The trouble is, I’m one of those weird, out-of-step people using Windows 10 mobile. Apparently, Windows 10 mobile isn’t set up to trigger the camera from the headphone jack. Whenever I try it, it just changes the volume on the phone.

The stick isn’t completely useless. I can fire up the Lumia Selfie app on the phone and take a timer photo, starting the timer before I hold the selfie stick aloft. There’s also an app, which I haven’t tried yet, which triggers the camera in response to a voice command, like “selfie!” I am concerned that exclaiming “selfie!” to my phone will only serve to convince the other people in the group photo that I am, in fact, kind of a pathetic narcissist.

It’s possible, and I hold out hope, that a future update to the Windows camera app, or maybe to Lumia Selfie, will add the headphone-jack trigger I need.

My next trip with the church youth (and others) will be to a minor league baseball game later this month. I plan to have the stick with me; we’ll see if I get a chance to use it.