Mirror, Mirror, by Simon Blackburn

I watch as two young women hold cell phone cameras at arm’s length, laughing as they capture an endless stream of self-portraits, appropriately known as selfies, to share with friends on Snapchat. At first I smile, enjoying the freedom with which each girl celebrates her own visage, unshackled by internalized social censors against self-appreciation. They wait for reactions to the pictures, their faces reflecting pleasure in friends’ texted affirmations. But as they continue without pause for more than ten minutes, I begin to wonder if the practice reflects liberation from artificial demands of self-denial or a new kind of bondage in which teens require a constant stream of feedback on the images they project in order to feel alive and well.


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