“Oh my god, I got so many likes on that last profile picture. Did you see? I need to break even with my next one at the very least. Hmm, what filter should I use? Valencia? No, too blurry. Hudson? No, the bags under my eyes look massive! How about X-PRO II? Oh whatever. I can decide on the filter later but first, let me take a selfie.”
Who does not know that song? If your answer to that question is ‘me,’ then I must ask you a very serious question… Where have you been for the last year? Have you been hiding under a rock?
Mind you, I am sure that rock has had its fair share of selfies with over-eager travellers and their smart phones, so you would still have managed to get your face splashed across social media platforms regardless!
Selfie this, tweet that, share this, like that. Is this life? Is this what ‘living’ has become? Do we literally exist to perform for social media in a world where being ‘liked’ or ‘trending’ is the be all and end all? No mobile device costing more than £9.99 comes without a camera and if it did, it certainly wouldn’t be flying off the shelves. This is because we feel the need to record every moment of our lives and then play it back over and over again, reliving these not-so-precious-anymore moments.
Pictures and videos definitely are not a novelty and they have existed for years. We have grown accustomed to being able to record all the important events in our lives. We all have baby pictures that our parents use as ammunition against us, and many of us have watched (and cringed at) the wedding video.
Now it seems that everything gets recorded or pictured, whether it is a relative’s graduation or just a friend urinating in the neighbour’s garden. The selfie however, now that is something worth discussing. What is the actual point of a selfie? Gone are the days when people took a picture of themselves in front of the mirror, angling the phone so that it did not interfere with the image of one’s face. Most smart phones have a front facing camera and so it really is as simple as tapping the screen.
When was the last time you took a selfie? Was it on a night out after one too many jager bombs, with you and your friends proving to the world what an amazing night you were all having? Perhaps it was a morning selfie to your ‘bae’ (yes, I did just write that word and I apologise already), or even a gym selfie with a strategically placed protein shake in the background?
Whatever it was, I bet it wasn’t a lifetime ago. It has become an essential social tool and even a means of ‘verifying’ ourselves. For example, a lot of us single pringles are on Tinder, POF or some other social/dating app. I can vouch for the majority of my friends in that they definitely would not meet someone for a date without seeing photos and they’d certainly expect a selfie. After all, a normal group photo or body shot could be anyone, right?
It’s not just us ‘normal’ people that take selfies either. It is a worldwide phenomenon that reached celebrities just as quickly as it reached the mere mortals of the world. In 2013, the selfie went viral and many well-known faces started to appear on social media platforms in their own, original selfies. It appears not even the world’s political and celebrity elite can resist the temptation of the selfie.
Ellen DeGeneres took one at the Oscars, alongside other famous faces, and it became the most retweeted tweet in history. Two of the world’s most famous political leaders; Barack Obama and David Cameron, faced worldwide scrutiny after taking a selfie with the Danish Prime Minister at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service. Was it ill mannered? Or was it simply routine, like brushing their teeth or wearing a tie? People always moan that politicians are too far removed from real life so surely they were merely getting into the spirit? The word ‘Selfie’ even became the Oxford English Dictionary’s Word of the Year in 2013.
One of my best friends gifted me this Christmas with, yes you guessed it; a selfie stick! I did see the funny side, as after all I make no secret of the fact that I enjoy a drunken selfie or ten. But the selfie stick just seemed to take it to a whole new level and suddenly it all got a bit too serious. For me, the reasoning behind a selfie was that it was quick, efficient and a somewhat casual thing to do. With the introduction of this metre long contraption that had to be unfolded, parts screwed into place and phones attached safely, it seemed to take all the fun out of capturing a quick selfie.
I’m sure there are a lot of people, including myself sometimes, who would argue that the selfie itself is taking the fun out of everything and out of life. What happened to living in the moment? Sure, it is great to have photos. But we don’t want to look back in years to come and remember taking selfies of these amazing moments; we want to remember them as clear as day. Yes a picture is worth a thousand words; but surely a memory is worth so much more?
By Jessica Lambert