I should just name this “Confessions of a Selfie Queen,’ or something narcissistically loaded, since that’s what you’re going to think about me after I say this: I love selfies. I love taking them, posting them and I honestly love looking at people marvel at their very existence by posting selfies as well. So sue me.
I’ve managed to use the word 3 times in one graph, which means I am either getting redundant, or the Oxford Dictionary was on to something strong when it was declared that the Word of the Year for 2013 is “selfie.” It’s an informal noun (plural: selfies) defined as “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website” and it is actually everywhere, #selfie.
But for some reason more than other social media clichés, it’s the type of photo that people publicly love to hate, but actually secretly love. In my personal experience on social media, the photos that receive the most likes aren’t marvels of the world, or photos of the Grand Canyon, they’re pictures people take of themselves, by themselves, proving someone out there is double tappin’ as the “narcissists” supply the demand. Kim Kardashian’s post-baby booty shot, anyone?
Naturally, a number of blogs have jumped at the opportunity to denounce those who indulge in the guilty selfie pleasure, namely Jezebel, who published a “conscious stream” of an article (read: Kanye lingo for rant) denouncing everything selfies stand for. Here is a taste:
Selfies aren’t empowering; they’re a high tech reflection of the fucked up way society teaches women that their most important quality is their physical attractiveness.
Further, self-taken digital portraits are typically posted on social media, ostensibly with the intent of getting people to respond to them — that’s what social media is. In that respect, selfies aren’t expressions of pride, but rather calls for affirmation. In real life, walking up to a stranger, tilting your head downward at a 45-degree angle, duckfacing, pushing your tits together, and screaming “DO YOU THINK I’M PRETTY!” would be summon the authorities. On the internet, it’s just how people operate.
Whoa. When did it get this serious? Social media is used for a number of things, namely to connect with others, update them on your life, work, existence, and if you so please, to take the MrPimpGoodGame route and post selfies exclusively (seriously, take a look at this man’s page). But where did all these unwritten rules come from? When did it become OK to put a cap on someone else’s innocent creative outlet just because of how it makes others feel? The one posting the selfies may not be the real narcissist here.
Personally, my Instagram is a reflection of life using photos taken by me, captions written by me, and the world seen from my P.O.V., and sometimes that P.O.V. happens to be from the front cam on my iPhone 5. Take a look at this great lipstick: because I write about beauty. Look at this stellar necklace: because I am a Style Editor, and yes, look at this freaking awesome hair day because this is what I get paid to write about for others. And I enjoy seeing my fellow bloggers do the same. See a selfie you don’t like? Scroll right on past it like all the other photos that don’t peak your interest.
Social media is in here for acceptance, to make us feel connected, and because honestly, humans are social creatures that seek acknowledgment. The purpose of a post of any sort is to be celebrated for your accomplishments, be it your plate of food if you are cooking for bae, or your shoe collection if you are a stylist. You’re seeking a collective group of “likes” akin to a “hey, nice shirt” comment from a stranger on the street. Selfies, in the broadest sense, are just another part of the hyper-connectedness and extensive documentation of our lives brought about by an era of social media and camera phones. Sure, it encourages F.O.M.O, and in some isolated incidents provides negative feedback (“girl, look at this duckface fail”) but is this seriously all there is to quarrel about?
There is a level of checks and balances with just about anything, and while the amazing “check out this selfie with Michelle Obama in the background” moments highlight the selfie, there are the equally bad shots, just as there are struggle plates from Martha Stewart in the same land of glorious eats courtesy of Barefoot Contessa.
The solution is actually quite simple: don’t like selfies? Don’t post ’em, don’t double tap ’em, but definitely don’t denounce others for doing so. There is an audience for everything, selfies and struggle plates included.
Have differing thoughts? Feel free to find @MiissHislop on Twitter and share your streams of consciousness.
*Note: The word of the year was used 19 times in the making of this blog. No “S” keys were harmed in the process.
Rachel is the Style Editor for GlobalGrind.com, proud graduate of a SUNY school, and as sarcastic as they come. Follow her on Twitter for random daily ramblings @MiissHislop and on Instagram for as many puppy photos and selfies as you can handle @AmazingRach