Selfie Me

“From where I’m sitting, I AM the centre of the Universe!”

― Sebastyne Young

 

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Andy Warhol was famous for saying that in the future we will all have our 15 minutes of fame. Well my friends the future is now and many people are already famous inside their own heads.

I am talking about that phenomena that’s sweeping the globe:

The Selfie.

selfie gif

A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone, digital camera or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.

I see more and more people doing this… MM calls it “selfing”.

And not just adorable little blondes with cutesy pink phones…people from all walks of life, actors, artists, men on the street, ladies of the evening, cats, babies and even presidents and leaders of people.

How did we get so obsessed with our own image?

The first selfies; born out of “necessity” for most of us.  Since the advent of social media and as more and more of us are becoming social online we need a profile pic.  It’s not something anyone really planned, it sort of just happened. We could blame Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of Facebook who thought of the world as one big yearbook with a sea of faces with which one could compare against each other and judge.  The selfie does predate Facebook and MySpace, where the term was first generally used.  Taking a photograph of oneself started with the invention of photography. It has only been lately that it has become an obsession for some, a joke to others. Whatever it is–it has become a part of our social landscape and our common global culture.

I am mysterious and sily

I am mysterious and silly and my table is messy.

Speaking for myself; I took my first one in the Autumn of 2012. I “needed” an updated Gravatar for this very same blog.  I was hesitant to ask anyone to take my picture because it sounded so weird and self-indulgent. ( Of course I am not one of those people.)  I snapped a few shots myself with my webcam, it was so easy. We are humans and social media is a place of social interaction between us.  Our faces convey so much to each other, so much emotion, feeling.  Many of our electronic communications are littered with emoticons.   Mere words cannot give the entire picture.

I am human

I am human

We have a need for each other.  A need to meet others to express thoughts and ideas. To be understood. To reach out and make that connection. To share ourselves with others.  Running the gambit of emotions; happiness to sadness and back again… from the amazing to the mundane.  We have a need to belong and to be looked upon favorably by our peers.   Selfies can be fun.  Some are very inventive and creative.  I don’t think they are necessarily a bad thing or a sign of the moral decay of our civilization and subsequent doom. I think they can be empowering for people and a way to boost self esteem.  There are  groups that embrace the idea of the selfie and encourage people to submit their own self portraits 365 days a year.  I have explored some of the submitted images. Some of it is quite artistic; there are talented photographers out there snapping pics of themselves every day.

Whoo-hoo!

Whoo-hoo!

The internet has put so much of our lives on display for one another. This puts the viewer of such display in the judges seat. It is tempting for anyone to judge given some of what we see and it’s easy to assume some find themselves on the short end of the comparison.  People’s opinions of each other unfortunately are swayed by appearance; the appearance of wealth, youth and good looks…the appearance of happiness….no one wants to look like a loser, or old or fat or bald or whatever.   Simply put, we care what other think about us and this very human truism is being played out on a grand scale throughout the digital world.

We call them selfies, we take them of ourselves but do they truly reflect our real selves?  I have seen quite a few of them and rarely are they realistic.

 

I Work out!

The selfie is a way for many to become the self they have always wanted to be.  I googled “selfie fails” and found a plethora of examples of Photoshop gone wrong. Men and women with obviously unrealistic bodies and faces, freakishly thin waists, bulging chests and completely unlined faces.   The pull is strong to want to doctor ones photos. I myself I am guilty of erasing a line or two here and there.  Who doesn’t want to be younger; to look 25 again? Who doesn’t want the perfect body and the perfect life?  We see them all the time…these people with the perfect everything.

The perfection hype we buy into is sold to us by the media.  The Joneses we are struggling to keeping up with don’t even exist.

The perfect job, mate and kids, the perfect parties and friends. These people go on exciting and exotic vacations with all the other beautiful people living perfect lives. We know this because we see it in their selfies. The ones they are nice enough to share with us so we can “like” them and comment; tell them how wonderful they are and how young they really do look. All accompanied by smiley faces and hearts.

o-WOMAN-SELFIE-570

LOVE ME!!!

 

Isn’t life a series of images that change as they repeat themselves?

Andy Warhol
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And we like them every time they put up a new one, every week even if it’s every day. Some people change theirs constantly; living a life in front of the tiny screen. Every minor event documented and accompanied by the same needy almost pleading stare. Just like anything else selfies can be addictive and perhaps that in itself is a sign of trouble–a cry for help.

sexy- selfie  -fails-chocolate-sauce

Watch out ladies it’s “Hot” Chocolate!

I also saw some other types of selfies on my googling adventure into this odd and narcissistic world. There were the funny ones, the amazing ones, the clever and cute ones, the silly duck faces and the ones with the bizarre backgrounds. But there were some sad ones as well. I was stricken by the number of photos taken by women, apparently mothers in bathrooms and other places with big mirrors posing for suggestive selfies in front of their small children.

...help

…help

I am a bit naive but this shocked me. It came off as desperate, so sad and lonely. And then I began to look at all the selfies in a different  light. Maybe they are not  just a sign of our collective narcissism and self-obsession, maybe there is something deeper; an underlying anxiety of separation, a feeling we are losing ourselves, the dissolution of the family unit. We are spending longer hours in the office, on the road, increasingly we are spending more and more time apart from each other.

Like me!

Like me!

We need to be accepted and understood. We need to be connected and have others think well of us.  Unfortunately this need to be liked and accepted maybe envied or idolized has become an obsession for some.

And maybe…just maybe, if we can have the perfect selfie we can get a little piece of that perfect life too…

As with everything else; nothing is all black or white…

…points to ponder…

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 Have yourself a wonderful day!

Nancy

 

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 “Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are.”

~Marilyn Monroe

Norma Jean Baker in 1946, photographed by Andre de Dienes.

Norma Jean Baker in 1946, photographed by Andre de Dienes.

Related articles and items of interest

 

365 Days The Challenge: Take one self portrait each day for a year.   (Fickr group)

 

The selfie  (wikipedia.org)

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THE SELFIE SYNDROME (feeldesain.com)

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 Scientists link selfies to narcissism, addiction and mental illness  (trueactivist.com)

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38 thoughts on “Selfie Me

  1. I wonder if the lack of face-to-face, real relationships, the kind where friends hold up a mirror and reflect our true selves, makes selfies the only way that a lot of people can try to see who they really are. Alas, the camera only captures what shows on the outside. A friend shows what’s kept hidden and safe inside.

  2. Pingback: Just Beeing | Words and Herbs

  3. I totally agree with everything you are saying here. It’s a complexity of narcissism and desperation and I, for one, do not buy into the 15 minutes of fame. I’m so not into being photographed at all and so I’m definitely over the selfies, although my daughter does them quite frequently for snapchat with only her closest friends, making silly funny faces that she refuses to share with the rest of the world. I don’t get the popularity and fascination with it, myself, but then I have more fun with words and writing. I love photography, just not pics of me. Great post, btw! ;)

    • Hi Carol, I can see the appeal of the funny faces, that may be fun. I too like photography and there is a whole wide world to photograph besides myself. (Thank goodness) Thanks for the kind and thoughtful comments. I truly appreciate it.

  4. I have taken a couple of selfies only… one with each of my dogs one wintery day down near the canal! It was fun, but I would never publish them! I think you’ve touched on some of the deeper reasons for them – that people want to be liked, for example. That is easier these days with Facebook etc. But many people only have such contact and no real life connections. Thought-provoking as always Nancy! :)

  5. Wierd self-preoccupation we have these days. Your phrase, “odd and narcissistic world.” pretty much sums it up. Writers are narcissistic, I believe, and the way we do this is to expose our minds and souls in words that we throw out there for others to read. This fad of the photo-selfie, especially the idea of taking one’s own photo repeatedly, may truly reflect some sort of fear that we may disappear from community.

    • Hello Joanne, Interesting take on the fear of disappearing. It makes sense. The photos are a representation of our very existence. I think we all have that fear somewhat; of the world going on without us. I too hope this is a fad, although I do see some artistic merit in some of it. Just like anything else, it is what one makes of it.

  6. I must say that I am flabbergasted at the amounts of selfies people take. I have taken mine out of necessity because I needed a pic. I update about once a year or longer. On fb I have a friend who seems to update her profile pic just about once a week – that just a bit excessive for me, but each to his/her own I suppose. Great post as always Nancy :)

  7. There is something so annoying about faces plastered everywhere. But then I’m one of those who can’t stand the whole FaceBook concept. The mothers in bathrooms with kids totally creeped me out. Loved the Marilyn Monroe quote, though. Hope you never waste who you are SBI! :D

  8. I am fascinated by selfies as well…I even tried being artistic about it in a photographry class; however, the instructor hated the concept. In retrospect it was avant garde, a difference of opinion. Overall, I agree it is a rather negative reflection. That and the obsession some have to document everything or to have one’s phone all the time. Somewhat concerning.

    • I agree. From the viewpoint of an artist selfies are interesting. If I had a lot more time on my hands I would consider doing a 365 selfie challenge but never include my face, trying to be as creative as possible. I’d last about 2 weeks and then lose interest I’m sure. I am concerned as well at people’s need to document everything they do , like what they are eating or the people that show their injuries…yuck.

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