In 2013, the term “selfie,” was awarded Oxford Dictionary’s Word of the Year. Now, well into a new dawn, this particular, social media phenomenon ceases to surrender. With no indication of a white flag, has this trend overstayed its welcome?
It seems (for most of us) we are past the glory days of planking, Crocs, and “Call Me Maybe” Parodies, but the selfie continues to generate quite the hype. At the Oscar’s, Ellen’s star-packed selfie became the most re-tweeted tweet of all time. Leaders such as the President Obama and Pope Francis have even taken part in the craze. These photos flood our newsfeed on Instagram and Facebook every day. So how did this all happen?
Maybe we should start from the beginning.
Van Gough probably never imagined a future with immediate self-portrait available at his fingertips, but maybe his style was the early stage of the selfie. Along the timeline of self-photography, we have captured our reflections through drawings, paintings, Polaroid’s, disposable cameras, digital cameras, mobile phones, tablets, you name it. New technology has set the stage for this type of picture. When Apple released the iPhone4 with front facing camera, it gave us complete control over perfecting our sexy pout. With one arm extended above your head, neck tilted at 45 degrees, and the quick sound of the shutter button, you created your very own selfie. And the iPhone was only the beginning. With the growing demands of smartphone technology, we have created mobile phones with ultra-wide lens to include more scenery and waterproof cases in case we needed capture ourselves while swimming with dolphins.
The rise of social media platforms popularized the selfie even further. From Myspace to Facebook to Twitter to Snapchat to Tinder, every mega-successful app and website are familiar to the selfie culture. For a lot of them it’s the premise of their existence. We like, favor, tag, and comment on photos as a way of connecting with each other. These social outlets have brought about new terms including profile pic, photo bomb, #nofilter, duckface (pause for gag reflex) to describe a photograph. Filters on Instagram give an artistic touch to our photos, and we can even create a collage of selfies if one facial expression isn’t enough. As this trend has become worldwide, documenting ourselves is shown to be the most popular here in North America and in Asia. But it doesn’t just have to be #SelfieSunday for you to upload a picture of yourself. It can be in the front row of a concert or with your new Prada bag and haircut. We do it anywhere, anytime, for anything.
Overindulging in selfies brings concern of self-obsession, a word that the “me-generation” is overly criticized for. While some see it as harmless self-expression, others view it as narcissistic. We promise your friends won’t forget what you look like if you don’t post a photo every day, and no one cares about your good hair day more than you. A little harsh maybe, but the cold hard truth is if you question whether you are documenting your life too much, you probably are. So get some friends, turn off the phone, and go do something away from the world-wide web. Make your life even more exciting and beautiful than what it appears to be online.
What is your take on the selfie phenomenon? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.