• Ilan Cooley

from selfies to selfless

"Now might not be the time to point the camera at ourselves. Right now, we need more selflessness and less selfies"

Featured in this photo: my hero and friend Connie, registered nurse


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I love a good selfie as much as anyone. Those moments when the light is just right, and your phone is in your hand (because where else would it be), and you get the perfect shot. For the most part, I feel sharing a selfie is about positivity and radiating inner joy. But now might not be the time to point the camera at ourselves. Right now, we need more selflessness and less selfies.

There are people outside my four walls that have given of themselves in ways I truly admire. They continued working frontline jobs as care and medical personnel, and service and delivery workers, while the rest of us did our part by staying home. I will guarantee at the end of their difficult days they were not in the mood to snap a selfie. Yet some of them did. The images of healthcare professionals sharing photos of themselves with mask marks and bruises on their faces after working long days caring for ailing patients really struck me. These people and their efforts are the true definition of selflessness. It is due to the sacrifices of others that we are currently able to get many of our basic freedoms back. It is also because of a focus on the greater good we will appreciate those freedoms more than ever. I truly believe there are positive outcomes to be found amid our recent struggles. I think many of us have witnessed acts of heroism, and have learned to put others first in unprecedented ways. We have shifted away from individualistic thinking.

I have reflected about influencer culture and how rapidly it shifted from lifestyle content to a focus on basic human needs. The true influencers of now are the people who worked hard to keep us fed, informed and safe. I still think there is a time and place for seeking distraction and getting lifestyle tips, but I also believe we need to balance that with gratitude, reflection and acts of service.

There are many different ways to be selfless.

Volunteering

I have always believed in acts of service. Volunteerism is something everyone can do in some form. There are many organizations who need skilled or general assistance and it can be as easy as choosing a cause or organization you believe in and finding out what they need. Some service can be done from the comfort of your home, or from a computer by donating professional expertise. Some can be done on the ground by donating time and effort. It all makes a difference and is an important part of building a strong community.

Check-ins

Doing check ins with people is a simple way to help others. It does not take much time to send a text, or make a phone call to someone to let them know you are thinking of them. I have been the recipient of this form of kindness and it is always appreciated. I try to pay that energy forward by doing check-ins of my own, sometimes reaching out to people I don’t talk to often, so they know they are still important to me. Checking in is something we can do any time, from anywhere, for any reason, and I think it is something that should continue long after our current situation is behind us.

Donations

This is an unprecedented and uncertain time for most charities. Many have had fundraising events cancelled, and with a struggling economy, even regular donors may be pulling back. This is a time when personal donations will be more important than ever. These mindful and directed efforts can be a shift in how we normally deploy our support. If we are used to buying event tickets, or contributing to a 50/50, we can instead consider making donations directly to the charities of our choice. They will need us more than ever. If each of us can donate even a small amount, it will go a long way to making sure critical work and essential services within our community continue. I guarantee every charity or non-profit organization you can think of needs assistance.

There are so many ways to help. It is indeed a time to be selfless. What will you do?

The selfies can wait.

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