To Velfie … or not?

<img src="velfie.jpg" alt="Velfie" width="300" height="200">

Velcome to the vicarious vorld of the velfie

People will believe anything! How many times have you heard somebody speak arrant nonsense with absolute conviction? Often, I am sure. How many times have you called for an explanation or a source and heard the reply, “But it was on the TV/in Die Son”? 

Astonishingly, in our era of information overload, people seem to become less and less informed. Access to more and more information seems to be the death of actual knowledge. Because I can get hold of information, I don’t have to retain it, digest it, discern the truth and nuances in it, test it for validity or ground it in real experience = in other words, make it my own in a way that makes me a wiser or more insightful person. More is considered to be better and depth is a waste of time.

Download culture

The German Dubsmash website claims it has 50 million downloads in 192 countries. The success of smart phone apps phenomena sweeps across the globe. But whether it is a blessing or an illness of our times remains to be seen. Unlike the static selfie, the velfie craze, an Indian invention, claims that it is more social because it can speak emotions, has a pause-play feature and subtitles. In its short life it has had 200 000 downloads in 140 countries. This removed and virtual interaction is a far cry from real social connection. A face-to-face conversation requires engagement with another soul in physical and emotional circumstances that impact on the contact in ways that force one to have courage and empathy, or reveal the lack thereof. Deception of the self or the other is more difficult. But in cyber reality fake is fashion.

Who embraced it and to what purpose?

Bollywood film industry stars post videos of old movie classics lip-synced onto their own faces. Sport stars strip the clothes off their false tans and photo-shopped bodies for their fans. Anybody can now be seen and heard to sing a hit song. Politicians can speak ‘directly’ to their electorate, infusing whatever promise they make with ready-made ‘sincerity’.

The velfie lends itself to shallow consumer values, but has far worse potential. Entertaining it may be, but is it real? How many people that use it have the discernment to separate it from truth? Imagine the politicians that will be elected on the false promises made in this way, the terrorists recruited by convincing megalomaniacs, the children seduced by perverts. Because it is a global craze does not mean it does not pose a global threat.

The velfie is a powerful tool. Be awake. Take care to use it wisely.