Narcissism and the Smartphone Front Facing Camera Revolution

Let me start by saying that I am in no way a tech blogger or a journalist for the latest and greatest in the world of smartphone technology; I am just a casual reader of the industry (especially when I am due for an upgrade). This past week was the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona where many of the top makers and designers bring their newest technology to put on display. Many of the software and gizmo’s presented are in a beta or pre-release status, meaning that they will be out in the market within the next few weeks to a couple months; other items are just there for the show.

One of the concepts I am seeing coming out of this years congress is a revolution of the front facing camera on smartphones. This little camera, that was added to smartphones as just a fun little extra, has over the years always played second fiddle to the ‘main’ camera. While the rear facing camera received notoriety and rave reviews when companies like Nokia put in a 24mp camera with software that was to rival any stand-alone camera unit, or when HTC developed the ‘Ultra-pixel’ camera for greater zooming capabilities than any other smartphone camera; the front-facing camera remained stagnant as a funny play tool at 3 to 4 mega-pixels at most. But now we see that trend changing. Smartphone manufacturers have discovered the power of this little tool and are putting their resources into it at full speed.

Here are three revolutions coming to the front-facing camera and the challenges I see it bringing for the Church:

1. Video Communication

The first and most obvious is that a better quality front facing camera will allow for better and more consistent video communication. Gone will be the day for text messaging or text of any sort for that matter. We want to see people, not just read about them. We want to interact more with our friends and family when communicating with them on the phone. More pertinent than that, we want to see and interact with ourselves. Video communication goes far above texting and pictures in the ability to interact with others; and social network sites, like twitter and instagram, that are known for primarily short text and still images respectively, have already jumped on board with an upgrade to their platform for video animation.

The front facing camera gave rise to an earlier revolution; the selfie. While the selfie, a quick picture of ones self to be shared via social networks, is not inherently bad, many young people found themselves drawn to taking inappropriate, even pornographic, pictures of themselves. Quick and easy and almost impossible to take back. Will better imaging quality and video capability give this behavior any less of a draw? What sort of perverse personal interaction will be invented with type this animation control? A still image can do damage to a person and a video can bring downright destruction.

The challenge for the church will be two-fold: A renewed commitment to reading the Word of God and a return to practical teachings on moral purity and personal integrity. While I am grateful for all the video and movies on the Bible that have recently come out, they cannot and must not replace what only the Holy Spirit can add to ones reading of the Word.

2. Facial Recognition

Passwords, online security, identity theft, system breech, hackers and your personal information, need I go on. There is a real need for greater protection in the online community. One of the methods proposed to meet this need is to use facial recognition instead of passwords when logging in, especially on a smartphone which is far more likely to get lost or stolen than a large computer. This method would be impossible without a better front facing camera.

With this greater sense of security comes the lure to add more stuff of a personal nature onto a portable device. The smartphone is already something that many people cannot go one day without. It has become ‘attached to the hip’ as they say. Our trust, hope, and confidence lies in something that can see our face. Can it tell when we are sad, happy, tearful, worried, disappointed, or multiple feelings at the same time? What if when you’re angry it doesn’t recognize you?

The challenge for the church is to rely on the Holy Spirit as much as we rely on a smartphone. Who better recognizes everything about a person. The Holy Spirit knows not just our looks but our thoughts and dreams, and He even knows our destiny according to the will of the Father. The church has taken hold of the same worldly fears and needs to learn again to trust in the safety and protection the Spirit of God, our comforter, provides.

3. Biometric Analysis

A scientific use for the front facing camera is biometric analysis. Recently, several makers have come out with digital fitness arm bands or digital watches with sensors to measure heart rate, pulse, weight loss, and to even keep track of exercise time and energy exertion. The only problem with these units is that they are separate devices. What if the smartphone can do all that without the need for another device? With the scanning abilities of the front facing camera and internal software to read it, this is possible.

To keep ones body in optimal physical condition is a good thing, and as that is something that for most of us we just don’t naturally want to do, having a smartphone that can help encourage this activity is not necessarily a bad thing. Where the challenge comes in for the church is that, many in the church are living unhealthy and inactive lives. This impacts ministry. Ministry can be at times very arduous work and can take a lot of energy. While running is a good exercise, performing ministry can be an even better exercise. The Lord will monitor all your work and will keep you moving forward, you just have to take the first step.

The Narcissism Connection

How does narcissism and a front facing camera connect? The word narcissism comes from Greek mythology. The following is from wikipedia on the story of Narcissus:

In Greek mythology, Narcissus (/nɑrˈsɪsəs/; Greek: Νάρκισσος, Narkissos) was a hunter from Thespiae in Boeotia who was known for his beauty. He was the son of the river god Cephissus and nymph Liriope. He was proud, in that he disdained those who loved him. Nemesis noticed this behavior and attracted Narcissus to a pool, where he saw his own reflection in the water and fell in love with it, not realizing it was merely an image. Unable to leave the beauty of his reflection, Narcissus drowned. Narcissus is the origin of the term narcissism, a fixation with oneself.

The origin of this fixation actually has its roots in another story from the Bible; the story of Nimrod in Genesis chapter 11. Nimrod too was a mighty hunter who had a pride issue about himself. He was the first of all nations with an ambition to build a kingdom. His desire went from having a kingdom to constructing the worlds tallest tower whose “top is in the heavens”. His pride led to a division of all the nations by language and confusion spread amongst all the people. A fixating love of ones self over everything else will not only bring down yourself, but all others as well. This is the connection between narcissism and a front-facing camera.

The cure to Narcissism is spirit-filled worship; not unto ourselves, but unto the Lord our Creator. – PastorStrom

This advancement in smartphone camera technology is being considered by many a revolution more in thought than in practice. There is a consensus among some, of switching it around in that the primary camera becomes the front facing versus the rear. To fixate more on ones self than on ones surroundings. I say though, that the greatest revolution this world, and the church, needs is a revolution of worship in the Spirit. The cure to narcissism is spirit-filled worship; not unto ourselves, but unto the Lord our Creator. What pride destroys the Holy Spirit can restore. Divisions can be made whole through the unity of the Spirit. For all peoples to worship the Lord God our creator, with one voice, from every nation, tribe and tongue, all together in harmonious unison; now that would be a worldwide revolution.

Then I will give the people of all nations pure speech
so that all of them will speak the name of the Lord
and worship me together.” Zephaniah 3:9 NCV


Published by Nathanstrom

Ordained Bishop with the Church of God; Cleveland, TN; Senior Pastor at Redemption Place Church of God Allegan, MI. Community Service Chaplain.

Share your thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: