Are selfies signaling a decline in society? We should probably look into it. And maybe take selfies of ourselves doing that, for future evidence. That way, if looking into it drives us crazy, our loved ones will at least be able to figure out how we got there.

One day archeologists are going to say, “People actually took their phones into the bathroom.”

What is a selfie? Really? Okay, I’ll bite. A selfie is a picture of you staring at your phone, from the perspective of the phone.

Who takes this picture? The phone? No, you do. Using the phone.

Why do we do this? We didn’t do this in the days of yore. To be honest, young people nowadays have no idea how we took pictures in days of yore, because there are no pictures of how we took pictures. Who took the pictures? It’s a mystery. So they take it themselves.

Someoneelse took the pictures, usually. Really? Because nowadays, everyone has a strange, irrational fear that they’re going to hand other people their phones to take pictures of them, and those people are going to immediately start scrolling through their old, embarrassing pictures. In the old days, there were no embarrassing pictures, because the person taking the picture would have said, “I’m not taking a picture of you like that; you look ridiculous.”

Well, what do people do these days if they want awider shot? They take it in front of a mirror. As a result, according to statistics that I read somewhere, there are now more pictures taken in a single day of people standing around in the bathroom than there were in the entire 1700s.

“People took their phones into the bathroom,” the archaeologists are going to say. “It must have been dangerous in there.”

But the fact of the matter is that no one’s gonna come in to take a picture of you. You gotta do it yourself. Hence the selfie.

Wasn’t it technicallyalways possible to take selfies? Yes, but with older cameras, you needed both hands, because one hand had to hold the camera and the other had to push the button, which was pushed downward. So a selfie back then was a picture in which both of your hands were reaching toward the camera, and basically looked like you were wringing the neck of whoever was taking the picture. Your other option back then was to set up the camera on a timer, and then sprint over to your group just in time to get a picture of you trying to take your place in the group. (Every sitcom in the ‘80s had a scene like this in the opening credits.) Also, back then there was one person in every group shot who, from the looks of the picture, was apparently possessed by demons. So times have improved. The weirdest thing, though, is that in all these movies in the past where they showed what the future would be like, there were no phones that took pictures.

Isn’t this whole thing ridiculous? Who needs 80 million pictures of themselves? Technically, there’s a school of thought that selfies are not pictures in the conventional sense, in that we’re actually going to go back and look at them someday. Or expect our grandchildren to hang them on their walls. They’re more like a photo diary. The point of a diary isn’t to ever go back and read it. It’s to process your thoughts at the moment, such as the thought of, “This is me ‘n my lunch.”

So it’s totally normal to take selfies, then? No! Selfies can get you killed! For example, the U.S. Forest Service recently issued an official warning against people taking selfies with bears.

Wait. It’s still called a selfie if you take it with a bear? Yes. The bear sure isn’t going to take the picture.

So anyway, there was this whole “bear selfie” trend of people trying to capture the last moments of their lives, apparently, and the Forest Service has decided to step in anyway, because it’s their job to clean up the forests afterwards.

Why can’t people just be careful? No one’s being careful. People want to get the photo before the bear gets away, so they’re running toward the bears at top speeds, and the bears are misinterpreting their intentions. Or they know exactly what their intentions are. There’s no way to tell. And the other issue, which follows immediately after these people run toward the bear, is that they then have to take the pictures with their backs to the bear.

But I can still take regularnon-selfies with bears, right? Sure. The thing about pictures that other people take of you is that they’re looking through the camera at you, and they’re like, “Um, you know there’s a bear, right?” Or they drop the camera and start running, and you realize that you should probably run too and find out why later.

Okay, so clearly animals disapprove of selfies. What if I just stay away from animals? Well, what about creatures you can’t even see? For example, there are experts who are saying that recent rises in teen head lice is directly related to selfies. Especially bear selfies.

How do you get head lice from a phone? And if you do, shouldn’t you get it from the times you have your EAR to the phone? Apparently, it’s because people press their heads together to get in the shot. In the old days, if there were a lot of you in the picture, the person taking it would just keep backing up, until it dawned on the group that he was stealing your camera. But you can’t back up with selfies. And until now, the only way people normally touched heads in polite society was by head-butting each other. Or by doing that thing where you stand back to back to see who’s taller.

So what do we do? I just took some selfies the other day! You’d think someone in the picture would have said, “I don’t know if it’s too late to mention this, but I have head lice!” No, they’re too excited to be in a selfie. With other people!

And it’sstill called a “selfie”? We think all pictures nowadays are called “selfies”.

So should I panic? Or what? No. Before you spray your kid with insecticide, you should know that some experts are saying that the lice don’t actually move that fast, and it takes way longer than a few seconds for the lice to climb onto your head. Of course, these are the same experts who say that the Five-Second Rule is a bunch of baloney. They can’t have it both ways.

I heard about something called a “selfie stick”. What’s that? It’s a pole that allows you to hold your phone up in the air so that you can get wider shots of yourself and your group and any wildlife in the background headed your way.

It seems weird to be walking around all day with a stick designed mainly so I can better take pictures of myself, doesn’t it?

Well, it has other uses:

  • You can use it to take pictures of other people when you don’t want to get up.
  • You can use it to hang onto your phone when you lend it to people so they don’t just start scrolling through your selfies. (“Why did you take sixteen pictures of spinach in your teeth?”)
  • I would probably use it to scratch my back. And end up with several close-ups of the inside of my shirt by mistake.
  • It’s also good for trying to get better reception in a valley. You can put it on speakerphone, hold it over your head, and yell up at the phone.
  • You can use it to fight off bears.

That sounds perfect then. It solves all our problems! No, it’s creating new ones. For example, some museums are now officially banning selfie sticks. They’re afraid people will ruin the exhibits. Because we already know that taking selfies impairs judgment, so the addition of sticks probably won’t help.

So what should we do about this? I don’t know. We need to put our heads together and try to come up with some kind of solution. Preferably involving lice shampoo.