Selfie is defined as a self-portrait photograph, typically taken with a hand-held digital camera or cell phone. The word selfie was introduced into the Oxford-English dictionary several years ago after it became an international fad. The selfie, only gaining popularity in recent months, is not going anywhere with the likes of snapchat, tinder, instagram and the newly invented selfie stick. I would argue that selfies can be broken down into three distinct categories.
The first category is comedic effect. I am not the type of person who takes selfies to post on Facebook, but I do occasionally send snapchats of myself to friends. In these snapchats, my only intention is humor. For example, I took a selfie of myself with my yoga mat at PE class two weeks ago. I knew some of my closer friends back home would crack up when they saw my roommate and me taking weekly yoga classes. Occasionally, there are snapchats that pop up on Facebook of my friends making funny faces with a comical caption.
The second category is selfies that are to be posted on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Tinder. These selfies, similar to what we discussed, are posed and thoughtful similar to a self portrait. Before posting one of these photos, the person thinks about the way they want to be perceived whether it is a physical activity/hobby they want people to know about or if they look exceptionally good and want people to see the photo. There are easy ways to hide certain features when taking selfies, based on the angle of attack, lighting, area of focus, accessories. When taking a selfie that is meant to be posted on social media, all of these components are thought about decisively.
The third category is the desire to show people what you are doing. This category is similar to photos. Last weekend, I won a squash tournament. I took a picture of myself with the trophy to show my parents. The goal of this photograph was to keep my parents, family and friends at an arms length away thousands of miles apart. Pictures are worth a thousands of words and make a relationship feel that much stronger. People also take selfies at the top of a hiking trail, surfing in the ocean, and biking on cliffs to show people what they are up to.
My main goal of this blog post is to demonstrate that it is hard to generalize the intent behind a selfie. In class a term like narcissistic was thrown onto the board. Although one can make the argument that even when you don’t care how you look, you are subconsciously aware, I think all selfies range in motive and are hard to create a “formula” for. For the next couple of days, walk around campus and spot the people taking pictures of themselves. Think about their facial expression, where they are, what they are doing and I think you might get a better sense that all selfies have a different motive.