People are doing it. They do it everywhere from the bedroom to the beach to the boardroom to (controversially) the funeral. True confession – I did it at the famed Clinton School located right next to Clinton’s Presidential Library in Little Rock waiting on a speaker. Why not, it’s universal. If you haven’t done it yet, you are likely to at least try it at some time in the future.
I’m talking about the selfie, a picture of you taken by you.
The selfie isn’t new. According to Lindsey Holmes in Why You Just Can’t Help But Selfie, selfies have been around since the earliest days of photography using mirrors and automatic timers. With today’s technology adding to the ease of selfies, they have increased in popularity especially among the young. While naysayers complain it’s a form of narcissism, many of us see it more as a way to connect with others by giving fun, personal glimpses into our lives.
Selfies run the gamut from as dramatically serious as a celebrity head shot to off-the-cuff, clownishly humorous. As the entire instantaneous process of image capture and delivery via social media can be done in seconds with a smart phone, it is a digital slap in the face to those slow photographic film processes of the past.
“Where am I?” I asked when we picked up the processed photographs. I was five, too early according to Erikson’s psychosocial stages to be developing adolescent identity framed by “Who am I?” But as an only child I featured prominently in the images that narrated our family life. For that reason I thought I would be the focus of the photographs I had taken with my new Brownie box camera. The selfie can help answer the “Where am I?” question and others from “Who am I?” to “Who am I at this very moment in time where I am right now?” Selfies, harkening back to commissioned self-portrait in Ancient Egypt, can help answer self-exploration questions according to media psychologist Pamela Rutledge in #Selfies: Narcissism or Self-Exploration? A major value of selfies to life narrators, Rutledge says, is that (like other photographs) they help us later by stirring up the actual “emotions, context, and experience.”
Want control of how you are viewed by others? Selfies are also a great way for folks from celebrities to commoners to take back our brands.
Wanna take better selfies? The front-facing camera has helped a lot by allowing for advance viewing and helping eliminate “selfie arm.” And some might know you can use the volume buttons to snap a pic. But an even handier tip is to use your iPhone’s headphones. Plug in your headphones, set up your iPhone, open the camera app, aim for a terrific shot, then press the + button on the headphones.
What is the possible future for the selfie? The savvy technology/social media embracing presidential candidate of 2014 (following in the steps of Barack Obama in 2008) might encourage its use among young campaigners to show insights into the campaign as well as support among the young and trendy. Maybe this thought springs from my own experience. I was bored waiting at the Clinton School in Little Rock to hear Fran Dresher tell about her Cancer Schmancer Movement in September 2012. For my own entertainment, I started snapping selfies. I posted one on Facebook with the caption, “How to kill time waiting for a speaker: take funny shots of yourself with your iPhone:-)” Where can I see yours?