Dying to selfie

What’s the greatest photo ever taken?

oscars_selfieWell, according to the Internet this week, it was the selfie taken Sunday by Bradley Cooper at the Oscars. Host Ellen DeGeneres gathered about a dozen Hollywood A-listers and Cooper took the photo with a tablet.

That was a fun moment in an otherwise dull telecast. The photo was retweeted so many times it crashed Twitter for a half-hour. But it also illuminated something about our culture right now: In any situation, people think the best possible photo is to turn the camera on themselves, rather than toward someone or something else.

Spend a few minutes on Facebook or Instagram and you’ll find enough narcissism to make a Kardashian blush. People fish for compliments, or maybe social acceptance, in what writer John Paul Titlow has called “a high school popularity contest on digital steroids.”

How does any of this apply to missions, or to reporting on missions? Read just about any blog or Facebook post from a team on a short-term mission trip. Watch a presentation from that team after they’ve returned. Note how much of the communication is about themselves rather than the people they served.

Want to know the impression that leaves? Watch this.

There’s a far better way. Realizing the story is rarely about them, good journalists disappear. They keep the camera and microphone pointed outward. That’s more difficult than simply reporting about your own experiences, because you have to interview and photograph someone other than yourself. You have to learn others’ stories in order to tell their stories … which turn out to be a lot more interesting than yours.

Think about how much more impact that approach can have – on the people being ministered to, on the people back home … and on those reporting the story.

It’s not about us. Really, it’s not. Point the camera outward.

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