2014 was undoubtedly the year of the #selfie. To take the ideal selfie, there is a very specific time and place. The camera is a little bit above my face, slightly tilted down, no flash. The light is preferably with natural light filtered through a window (cars provide that filtered light in all directions).
These rules, of course, only apply to me, in front of my phone, and maybe perhaps to be shared - one day.
For such a public idea, selfies are actually rather personal. They are images that literally are reflections of what you think you look like. Never before did we have so much power over a permanent image of ourselves. Portraits generally were taken by another, another who did not necessarily know your good side, or saw you from a different angle than you saw yourself. Yet these portraits were never as close towards our faces as the selfies that we all take (unless you have invested in the selfie-arm). In fact, it would be considered fairly rude to get that close to anyone’s face. The reflection aspect of selfies, the physical representation of how people look could potentially be considered as a pressure to look good constantly, to have many likes and many compliments, but it’s more of a reflection on not so much looking good, but being liked. It’s a physical picture of yourself, but a representative picture of yourself within society.
They are in droves on Instagram, on Facebook, through snaps and chats. Videos, peace signs, duck faces, light effects, pictures are one of the most common images in the internet. Selfies at famous places, selfies with make-up, selfies with a group of friends announcing a great night. It’s an announcement to wherever the selfie is shared of the fun and friends that fill the fabulous life lived.
What was once mocked is now normal; a crowd gathering behind one person with a rectangle of metal hovering above them all, anywhere, is not unusual. Ellen deGeneres took her momentous selfie on Oscars night, and hence the act has become more of an acceptable action in public (if the hottest stars in Hollywood did it at the most fabulous night of the Hollywood industry, why not any other person/group?). Wanting to take a picture of yourself is not at all vain, it’s acceptable. It’s often encouraged in consumer brand contests. It’s a way to show who you are. Snapchat has brought about selfies in an even more fleeting form of communication; taking a picture of yourself at the present moment allows the receiver to feel as if they were really talking to you - as if they were right next to you.
Even my mother has embraced selfies, taking them fairly often on our family vacation this summer. It’s easier, and they can be taken frequently without the awkward bump of asking a stranger to take it for you. With the accountability of everyone sharing photos, pictures as a medium to document our everyday lives calls for more pictures - more selfies.