Selfie: How We Became So Self-Obsessed by Will Storr
Book Review by Kristine Madera
Full disclosure, I like political and socioeconomic history told from a compelling angle, so I was thrilled with Will Storr’s book Selfie, which stitches together the ancient Greeks through to the modern age with the thread of existential perfectionism, our changing self-perception and the stories we tell ourselves about the unattainable person we are supposed to be.
The ancient Greeks obsessed over the idea of a perfect man (yes, always a man with the Greeks) who believed that fate was centered in the individual to the exclusion of other cultural forces (like, say, being a woman in ancient Greece) and that outer beauty signaled inner virtue. This gave way to the Christian idea of perfection as a clean and godly interior self. The Humanists then brought the idea of idealized authenticity and radical self-responsibility, followed by the Neo-liberal hyper-competitive, winner-take-all cultural ideal of self-sufficiency, success, and trampling over the masses to achieve your own goals.
Storr, in this part research project and part memoir book, shares his own journey on the path of perfection. He says that storytelling is ultimately a form of tribal propaganda that defines the ideal self, tells us what we need to change to become that ideal self, and then gets us to internalize this story and become complicit in the propaganda. He warns that perfection is an illusion that can cause people to chase goals that they don’t care about and skills they don’t want in the relentless pursuit of perfection. For some, the dissonance between the faddish ideal self and the real self can even cause a spiral of self-loathing that can lead to suicide.
Storr encourages readers to stop believing the propaganda and free themselves from its demands so that they can live a life that is meaningful to them. In other words, put down that selfie stick and be the real you, not the idealized you that you’ve been taught that you need to be.
A worthwhile read!
Kristine Madera is a #1 bestselling Amazon author, novelist, hypnotherapist, and pro-topian with a passion for helping people better themselves and the world. Informed by global travel, teaching abroad, and a stint as a Peace Corps Volunteer, Kristine believes that everyone plays a part in imagining and creating our collective future.
Volunteering at Mother Teresa’s Home for the Dying in Calcutta inspired her novel, God in Drag. She birthed her upcoming novel, The Snakeman’s Wife, as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Papua New Guinea.
Read the first chapter of God in Drag HERE