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Giving is the UnSelfie

Giving is the UnSelfie

As I pulled up to a busy Southwest Florida intersection last week I noticed a long line of cars backed up in the opposite direction.  For a moment I reconsidered my route assuming there must be an accident or an extreme case of seasonal traffic overload heading my way.

On closer inspection I noticed a young woman stopped at the light, smartphone in hand.  I know you think I am going to tell a tale of texting while driving or no hands free talking, both dangerous and potentially deadly acts when behind the wheel of the car.

But this was neither of those all too common offenses.  Instead this driver was actively engaged in a stop light “selfie.”  For the select few of you not up on all the uses of a phone these days one of the most popular is taking photos of yourself and then posting them on social media.  Celebrities have taken this to a whole new level even publishing books that are collections of their selfies in front of bathroom mirrors or just living out their glamorous lives.

I’m not sure if the driver I encountered was a celebrity but horns soon started blaring, she dropped the phone, was on her way followed by a parade of cars and surely a great shot from the front seat of her car.

In the right scenario, selfies are fun.  It’s a way to catalog solo experiences or invite a few friends into a photo with you.  Technology has made it possible to be a documentarian of our own life.  No celebrity status needed and no more asking passing strangers to snap a shot, you have the power right at your own fingertips.

But you have to be careful that capturing the selfie doesn’t become more important than experiencing the moment firsthand.  You can miss a lot from behind a phone.

Over the holidays I spent some time at the beach and saw more than one family miss watching beautiful Southwest Florida sunsets while trying to capture the perfect selfie.  Backs to the water, phone outstretched searching for the best shot of themselves only to discover the sun had set while they weren’t looking.  I could feel their disappointment when they turned back to face the water and realized what they had missed.

By name and nature, the selfie is an inwardly focused activity.  Sometimes we all must stop and consider turning the camera away from ourselves literally and figuratively.

Giving is the ultimate Unselfie.   Acts of kindness, generosity and service allow us to focus our attention on others.   We no longer worry if we are in the shot and can take in the beauty found around us through relationships, and our surroundings.  Donors at the Southwest Florida Community Foundation often tell me they are most in touch with themselves when they are giving to others.

You don’t even have to give up your phone to become part of the unselfie movement.  Just turn the camera around and capture someone in an act of giving and share it with others, or snap a shot of yourself giving back finding a way to hide your face so the focus is not on you.

In Southwest Florida you don’t have to look too far to find opportunities for unselfies, giving is all around us and there are so many opportunities to be involved and impact the lives of others.

I would love to see your unselfies and share them on our social media platforms.   Send them to me at [email protected] or on Facebook @SWFLCF or  and on Twitter @SWFLCFnd or Instagram @swflcommunity.


The Southwest Florida Community Foundation, founded in 1976, cultivates regional change for the common good through collective leadership, social innovation and philanthropy to address the evolving community needs in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. Last year, the Foundation partnered with individuals, families and corporations who have created over 400 philanthropic funds.  Thanks to them, the foundation has invested $5 million this year in grants and programs to the community.  With assets of $93 million, the Community Foundation has provided more than $67 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves since inception. The Foundation is the backbone organization for the regional FutureMakers Coalition and Lee County’s Sustainability Plan.  Based in Fort Myers, the Foundation has satellite offices located in Sanibel Island, LaBelle (Hendry County), and downtown Fort Myers.  For more information, visit or call 239-274-5900.






Sarah Owen
Sarah Owen

Sarah Owen, President & CEO of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, leads a passionate and diverse team dedicated to driving regional change for the common good. The Foundation is committed to engaging the community in conversations and action that creates sustainable positive change and provides the funding to make those changes a reality. More