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.
Readers write about risk, Rachel Srubas on Armenian Americans and Turkey, Ted Campbell on the myth of the mainline.
Feb 26, 2015
There is an 80 percent chance that later in this century a megadrought will plague the American Southwest for decades, according to a study released by researchers at NASA and at Columbia and Cornell universities. The drought will be caused by reduced precipitation and changes in evaporation rates. The researchers say other factors, such as the El Niño weather pattern, could interrupt long periods of severe drought. The researchers say there is time to reduce the factors contributing to climate change (Washington Post, February 12).