Ah, the selfie. A great divide of our times.
I’ve taken a handful or two. Six or seven of them have even made it onto the internet. Nearly every time I’ve posted one, it’s been like ripping off a band-aid while getting caught talking to myself.
Number of selfies I posted online in 2013: three. Unless this counts as a selfie? You can see my hand there, holding onto the corndog:
Why are some people so cool with them? And others, like me, find them painful, awkward, bloated with ego. It’s been hard for me to see selfies any other way. A recent post by Leilan McNalley gave me a glimpse into how the other half see the world. I’d never really considered these self-portraits as a higher form of self expression.
I mean, let’s face it. They’re everywhere. I’m surrounded by amazing people who post them all the time. I work in marketing, mostly on the web. It’s about time I made as much peace as I can with these.
Watching this phenomenon unfurl to all corners of the internet (Selfie managed to edge out twerk as the word of the year in 2013), I really thought there were two kinds of personas – selfie-takers and selfie-haters. But when I asked the question: To selfie, or not to selfie, I found a lot of us living somewhere in the middle.
Some outtakes from my quick survey:
“My audience expects it. I like the ribbing and I honestly enjoy the attention. I’m a highly social person, and selfies are just one more way of engaging.” – Craig Dodge Lile
“I think selfies are a form of expressing yourself and capturing the way you look/feel in a certain time/place.” – Rita Troyer
“The funnier and more creative, the better. Aside from that, who am I to judge anyone for taking a selfie?” – Jason
“I don’t take them seriously. My friends and I send them constantly through SnapChat, it’s a fun way to stay connected throughout the day.” – Ashley Mennel
This isn’t ‘Nam. This is selfie. There are rules.
“I take them sparingly, basically if I need a new profile picture. Otherwise, selfies seem indulgent.” – Louis Meyer
“I mean, if you’re in need of a new profile pic I don’t see anything wrong with it. Maybe you look funny – that’s cool too. Otherwise, I’m not in to it.” – Kasey Bradley
“I wish you had to be a certain age before you could selfie. None taken before the age of 21” – Meggie Dials
“In general, I feel that no more than like 1/10 photos should be a selfie.” – Dan Dark
Rules, part deux: Duck lips. Just no.
“Neutral ….. unless duck lips. I mean come on.” – April Duncanson
“I don’t mind them a bit. Granted, I’m 43 and not 18, so I’m not friends with people taking pic after pic of themselves with duck lips in a teeny bikini. But sometimes it’s a fun way to capture myself and kids at a fun place or for my friends to show themselves finishing their first marathon or on a mountaintop or lovely vacation spot. Maybe middle-aged and old-folk selfies are the ones I appreciate most.” – Tracy
What have you done for me lately? No seriously. Should a selfie provide value to others?
“I feel…ummmmmm…about selfies. Like most anything, the selfie can be used for good or evil–it can be a moment of thoughtful self-expression, self-composition, in a way, or it can be gratuitous and yuck. Maybe that’s the thing of it for me: if the selfie (which is by definition of and for the self) seems to somehow transcend that and actually OFFER something to the non-self viewer, that’s when it becomes worthwhile. So maybe the selfie is like anything–but I question that, that I seem to want to require substance or value of a selfie, because again, by definition it seems to be excluded from the task of universalizing value.” – Jackie Lutzke
“Selfies come in a wide variety, and the quality and sense of expression matters. Goofy shot that includes half your arm – lame. Great picture that shares information, like my friend’s selfies of her baby bump – priceless.” – Kathy Slaughter
People might think you’re just that into you.
“Sometimes selfies are warranted or funny but mostly I feel bad for the person on the other end like everyone’s in on the joke but them.” – Abby Schoonveld
“Narcissistic and conceited. It’s bad enough we have to deal with constant status updates about what you’re eating for breakfast. We certainly don’t need an unflattering, ill-lit picture of you doing it.” – Whitney
(Aside: I’m so guilty of food pics… let me just hang my head in shame right now. But really, I think one of the most engaged tweets I ever sent was about meat loaf.)
In closing, wise words from anonymous:
“If every picture you post is of just you, you might want to reconsider a few things.”
So, what say you:
To selfie, or not to selfie?
This post is part of Think Kit by SmallBox
Today’s prompt: “December 2: Take a poll and share the results. Is there something you’ve been curious about? A decision you’re struggling with? Ask the crowd, and report back on what the results might mean.”