The selfie is nothing new. The concept of self-portraiture is ages old, be it with a paint brush or a camera with a timer. But with the dawning of the iPhone 4 in 2010 and its front facing camera, the selfie has gone from social media fad to being just another way we take photos. In fact, dare I say it, selfies are now pretty normal.
People Like People
For the most part selfies are great. It’s a way of including ourselves in moments we want to share and to save. That view I can see, well here it is with me in the corner. That meal I just enjoyed with friends, well here we all are at the end of the evening. They are quick, instant and personal.
We are all naturally drawn to faces. Scroll through your Facebook or Twitter feed and notice which images you pause over. It’s most probably the images with people in. They say a picture paints a thousand words. But a picture with faces paints five thousand.
Me, Me, Me
But there is a slightly more troubling side to the selfie too.
Last time I was in London I noticed a couple taking a selfie on their way down an escalator. For some reason this bugged me, and not because I was concerned for their safety (although they did look slightly precarious and there have been selfie related deaths).
Perhaps it bugged me because I heard one of the couple was saying, “Where’s my 3G gone. Don’t they have Wi-Fi here. I have to put this on Facebook like now”. Do you? Really? NOW?
While our ability to document our lives in images is a wonderful thing, some would argue that the selfie has become a symbol of an increasingly narcissistic age. After all most selfies are taken for the sole purpose of sharing on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Notification of Approval
And then we sit back and wait…for the likes and the comments to roll in...the notification of approval. I suspect, if we’re honest, most of us would admit that this is at least part of the reason we post selfies to our social media profiles. We want positive feedback.
For some (including people I know), selfies have become a habit and a compulsion, and if they don’t receive any likes or comments within the first few minutes they begin to worry, doubt themselves, or worse still, feel bad about themselves.
This is the slightly more troubling side of the selfie. It opens us up to any form of feedback - good, bad or downright abusive - from people we know and sometimes people we don't. Many an article has been written about the selfie phenomenon, the potentially damaging consequences, and the psychological impact of selfies on the of the younger generation.
The iPhone fuelled social media novelty is here to stay and should be enjoyed. Just avoid taking them near a cliff edge, busy road or on moving objects, and think twice before making them public.