caption doable? (XX)

We’ve been doing this for a while, and the world keeps on turning. Photographer Joseph Bryon helps hold a camera with his right hand on the roof of Marceau Studio in 1920. (Museum of the City of New York)

Young people are often called narcissistic and self-centered for their love of selfies. Our culture is eroding! Back in my day we walked uphill — both ways — for the yearly family portrait, which a professional took.

But the human condition hasn’t changed that much in a generation or two. Mankind has always been self-interested. Political philosophers pointed that out centuries ago. What’s different now is access to tools such as smartphones, and a comfort level with them.

For the first time in history we’re walking around with cameras at all times. Younger generations, who are open to trying new things, have mastered the potential of a smartphone’s front-facing camera. They’re even being creative.

The men in the photo above aren’t that different from today’s young people. They could have popularized selfies in the 1920s. But their environment wasn’t ready yet. Digital cameras, the Internet and photo-sharing apps such as Instagram were decades away.

So next time you see a selfie, don’t shake your head. Civilization will be okay.