The Key Difference Between SELF and SELFIE


We have a rule in our home of “No Selfies.” None taken, none texted, and none posted on social media. None.

And we don’t just state this as a rule, we ensure it is complied with by restricting all pictures from being sent and received on our kid’s phones. If selfies are found, the camera is then turned off completely on the child’s phone.

Does this seem cruel and unreasonable in this selfie-centered society?

Let me ask you, have you seen someone (of any age) in a restaurant, store, or any public place taking a barrage of selfies? Have you paused, watching them for a minute, unable to look away as though you were passing by a car accident? As they adjust their hair, tilt their chin, raise their eyebrows and purse their lips you get to observe the entire scenario without ever being noticed.


Because they are entirely focused on themselves. They have no clue what is going on around them because the self-absorption of selfies has robbed them of being present and aware.

For this reason, I have grown a strong disdain for even the word selfie. It’s as though it took something sacred (self) and defiled it.

Self is a beautiful and meaningful word. There is an abundance of growth and wisdom when it comes to focusing and learning about “self.” Values and characteristics we greatly desire for our children that require them to focus on self are:

  • Self-Esteem
  • Self-Assurance
  • Self-Awareness
  • Self-Control
  • Self-Respect

These are integrity driven qualities that necessitates one to reflect on themselves, peer inside their heart and motivations, be curious about their emotions and feelings, understand their temptations, and bravely work to believe in who they were created to be.

There is tremendous beauty in someone willing to focus on strengthening themselves from the inside out.

In contrast, we have the viral societal shift to selfie rampant among us. Unlike self, selfie is a wholly external and outward examination of a self.

Unlike focusing on self, focusing on selfie means one is solely tuned into their appearance. The only learning on selfie achievable is how to improve facial expression, hair position, lighting and the use of filters or editing.

Selfie-focus will not improve your relationships, motivation, behavior, work ethic, or confidence. It is a surface level focus that will only yield surface level results. You may have thousands following your Instagram feed and receive hundreds of “likes” for every selfie you strategically post, but what value does that actually have when you are alone, face down, and in desperate need of true connection. Will the hundreds of well-crafted and edited selfies help you understand why you continuously battle the same problems of self-doubt and broken relationships?


Sadly, selfie-absorption has become a tangible problem, if not an addiction, in our culture. The little bit of superficial validation is like a drug, enticing you back for more, and feeding on the unceasing cycle of self-doubt and self-hatred.

Selfie-Absorption is not a cure for self-doubt.
Selfie-Fame and popularity is no resolution for self-hatred.

This is why we prohibit selfies. By not allowing our children to become absorbed with their external appearance, the false validation of others, and the relentless pursuit of selfie -fame or popularity, they can naturally turn their focus to the internal characteristics of themselves.

Improvement of self is what matters most – not improvement of selfie.

More than a mantra or cliché self-help, this is solid biblical truth.

When Samuel went to anoint a king he found the oldest son of Jesse and assumed by outward appearance this was to be the new king. He was quickly corrected by God, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

The apostle Paul writes in a letter to the church in Thessalonica defending his ministry, “Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our heart. Never once did we try to win you with flattery, as you well know. And God is our witness that we were not pretending to be your friends just to get your money.” 1 Thessalonians 2:4

The Lord sees our heart. Our purpose is to please Him. Our focus should be on strengthening the heart to please Him, not  pleasing our Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook followers/friends.

Therefore, NO selfies.

This is where you choose COURAGE over culture and what is RIGHT over what is easy.


For further clarification, we know all rules have some exceptions and this is no different. First, we do not consider it a selfie if someone else is in the picture. “Groupies” are allowed. Second, a selfie taken in order to capture a record-able moment in a specific location is allowed. For example, while in New York City, I allowed my 18 year old daughter to snap a selfie in front of the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, etc. These were record-able first moments, not boredom induced self-obsession and validation pursuits.


Picture of Kelly Newcom

Kelly Newcom

Kelly is the author of the book, Managing Media Creating Character, and the founder and executive editor of Brave Parenting. She is a mother of 7 foster-adopted children. Kelly is passionate to help others bravely parent counter to culture and societal norms. She believes parenting is Kingdom work and must be done with the courage and bravery of a warrior of God.

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