Elen sila lumenn omentielvo!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A couple brief thoughts on "selfies"

I've been hearing and seeing a lot of discussion of the "selfie" phenomenon online the last few months. Selfies -- self-photographs, for those not up on the lingo -- have certainly become a lot more popular of late. I take my fair share myself, which is an odd development for someone who once loathed having his picture taken. Oh well.

I have a hard time seeing selfies as a bad thing, really. I think their explosion springs from a couple of sources: first, the fact that everyone now walks around with a camera on them at all times, thanks to their cell phones. I remember when cameras in phones was the newest thing, and now...aside from those cheap "Makes calls only" phones you see advertised in Parade Magazine -- the cheap ones geared to people who literally don't want to do anything other than make calls with their phones -- do they even make standard phones without cameras in them? No idea. Anyway, a camera is no longer something you have to choose to take with you when you go someplace. It's no longer a case of, "Hey, we're going to Mount Rushmore today! Make sure you pack the camera!" So there's that.

Secondly, I think that selfies are a natural reaction to something that was said of the Internet for years: that as a primarily text-driven medium, it was often hard to discern mood and temperament just via the words on the screen. A joking tone might be missed entirely, and getting to "know" someone without ever seeing their face always had an incomplete feeling. There was a layer of opacity, created by the Internet, through which it could be hard to really determine what a person was like. Not that everybody is pasting selfies to every thing they say, but I do think that as the Internet becomes more and more of a social thing -- and by "Internet" I also mean all the various social networking doodads that are primarily used on mobile devices -- it becomes easier and easier, and this more and more common, to include photos of oneself in one's various interactions.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on selfies. Well, not quite: I'm not sure why more folks don't use their camera app's self-timers, opting instead to photograph their own mirrored reflections, I don't understand the whole "duckface" thing, and really, when you think about it, "selfie" is a kind of goofy word. I think there's a study to be done of the Internet's tendency to reduce its lingo to the shortest possible words, often making up new words entirely if there's not already a short-enough word to do the job.

And no, I'm not including a selfie in this post. Just because.

2 comments:

Roger Owen Green said...

I suppose, since I'm more text oriented, that I don't "get" selfies or Pinterest, for that matter.

SK Waller said...

I'm so glad you spoke up about the word, selfie. I don't understand this need to make everything sort of precious. I especially dislike it when it's done with the names of diseases and conditions. People label themselves as Aspies, Hashies, and many others. It seems childish to me and I've always detested applying labels to people.

I like taking self-photos because I can Photoshop the camera right out of them! (My phone doesn't have a timer.)