The selfie epidemic has taken over. It’s spreading like wildfire. From Facebook profile pictures to billboard posters, there’s no escaping! Every corner we turn, you can bet your bottom dollar on it, a selfie is being taken. There’s no getting away from those compulsive camera clicks!
But where did this selfie craze come from?
It couldn’t possibly be…
In the early 90’s, Thelma and Louise were taking selfies with a young, and rather handsome, Brad Pitt.
Let’s just take a moment of appreciation…
Okay, I’m done drooling now!
In the swinging 60’s, Buzz Aldrin took the first ever space selfie…
The oldest known self-portrait (aka selfie) was taken way back in 1839, by a chap called Robert Cornelius in Philadelphia.
But wait! It goes back further still…
Back in the 15th century they had their very own version of the selfie…
3 months later…
She’s got that sultry pout down to a tee!
They were even at it in the Stone Ages…
There’s no denying there has been a vast development since the historical selfie days. Back in the ‘olden times’ selfies weren’t so instantaneous. If we weren’t waiting for our fellow caveman to carve our face into a rock, we had to wait a whole week (the 24 hour photo development was overpriced, and I was a cheapskate!) for our selfies to return. Once developed, we would insert the, better of an often rotten bunch, into a photo album.
A photo album, my child! A book of photos which generally comes out when we had a sherry too many, and wished to reminisce our yesteryear! Whilst the photo album’s collect dust, technology has taken over, and so today’s selfie is born. And boy has it taken the world by storm!
Can you imagine a time when there were no…
That’s right! A time when the photobomb was just an awkward person in the background. A time when a hashtag was just a number sign. A time when the ‘duck face’ was only ever seen on a…errrrr…duck.
Fast forward to modern times, and there is no escaping the fact that the world has gone selfie-crazy!
In 2013, Oxford Dictionaries announced selfie as their international Word of the Year! The word was initially coined by a drunk Australian man on a web forum in 2002, when he had cut his lip after a trip, and yeah! You’ve guessed it, took a ‘selfie’.
What is a Selfie?
The selfie; Front camera at the ready: Check! Preparing best facial angle: Check! With one overly-stretched arm, and wearing our prettiest pout, we shoot, edit and share with the world.
Over one million selfies are taken each day with the intention of being shared on social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. The majority of selfies (a whopping 75%) are taken by people aged 18-24. One of the top reasons for taking a selfie is to remember a happy moment. Other reasons include capturing a funny moment or snapping a new outfit.
It’s becoming a normality to see people stopping on heavily populated footpaths to capture that all-important selfie. Ten broken toes later, we are still smiling because we managed to capture that crucial selfie. And guess what? It got over 100 likes!
The top five WORST selfie types
#5 The Duck Face…
Need I say any more?
#4 The Gym Bragger will post a ‘selfie’ of themselves with abs so hard you could crack a walnut on them! There’s nothing wrong with this – If you’ve got it, flaunt it! BUT GUYS! Please spare a thought for us avoid-the-gym-like-the-plaguer’s….
As the gym bunny snaps yet another abs of steel selfie, we tap our bellies and say to ourselves, “I really ought to
join that gym membership finish the last Krispy Kreme!”
3# The Bathroom Selfie is a popular one. How many times have we seen someone posing in their finest ensemble only to be ruined by the line of grotty toilets in the background?
Or, worse still, the sight of someone urinating!
2# The Amateur Photo-shopper…
Is someone going to tell him the skin tones don’t match, or shall I?
And the winner goes to…
The mother of the year
Calling all momma’s! If you’re going to take a ‘saucy selfie’, AT LEAST wait until your children are in bed!
From parachuting out of an aeroplane to swimming with sharks. No selfie has been left unsnapped.
Selfies: When mirrors aren’t enough!
Let’s face it! We all need a reminder of what we look like, you know, just in case we forget! 43 selfies later, we can reassure ourselves…“Yeah, I’m still here… And man, am I looking good!”. Once we have perfected our selfie – by filtering the heck out of it – we post it on the World Wide Web for all to see!
Jokes aside, the selfie raises a very serious problem…
No, not head injuries! I’m talking Self-esteem.
Instagram and other social media sites are becoming invaded by unrealistic images of this notion we conceive to be ‘perfection’. When we are bombarded by displays of picture-perfect bodies and immaculate faces, is there any wonder why we feel we must look, and behave in, a certain way? Flawless, and often photo-edited, celebrities post their selfies online on a day-to-day basis. With a following of multi-millions being subjected to their glamorous looks, it is no surprise we are seeing a growing number of people copying their idols.
So, what’s the harm in this?
As a growing amount of people admire the delicately edited images of their favourite celebrities, it’s only natural both men and women are becoming more concerned about their body image. Whilst it seems the whole world is thriving as they use their selfies to ‘show off’ their brands, us everyday folk feel like we are merely existing. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
The beauty of the internet is that we can, like our idols, hide behind the persona we create for ourselves. Being in control of our own image means it is easier to become both noticed, and accepted in society. The more ‘likes’, ‘retweets’ and ‘favourites’ we gain, the better we feel. The more attention we achieve, the more our self-esteem grows. But does it? To think young people are measuring their self-worth on the basis of how many ‘likes’ they can get for their selfies is truly shocking. Sadly, this is reality.
Sometimes our fictitious worlds take over. We get so wrapped up in marketing ourselves, we can lose our genuine identities, and worse still, struggle to build ‘real’ relationships outside of our social media bubble.
Narcissistic or a confidence boost?
There’s a fine line between boosting one’s confidence and self-obsession. While some people say the selfie is merely an outlet for self-expression, others argue that it is nothing less than an extension of our self-absorption. Let’s look at the positives. The selfie can be a fun and creative way of expressing oneself. As we point, shoot and get silly, for a moment our worries are lost, and we can forget about the responsibilities of everyday life. Through selfies, we can express and develop our personalities, as well as openly share parts of our lives. From perfect pouts to belfies (This is a selfie of your bottom if you’re wondering) nothing is left unshared.
Selfies can also help us build confidence. As we wash out a sea of flaws with forgiving filters, we are able to look at ourselves in a new light. And now we have an enhanced image of ourselves, let’s put it out there for the world to see… harmless, right? Perhaps. But once we climb onboard the selfie bandwagon, it’s often hard to climb off again. The occasional selfie turns into a couple of snapshots, before we know it, we’ve got a hundred pair of eyes staring back at us, sporting that same gormless look. Wait… In Selfie number 57 my eye is a fraction smaller! Yes, darling! one must blink!
A darker shade of selfie
Behind the picture-perfect pouts and exaggerated smiles, lurks a darker shade of selfie. Beneath the flattering filters and whimsical hashtags, we find a story contrary to the one that is painted so vibrantly for the world to see.
Psychologists have suggested selfies can not only cause narcissism and addiction, but also mental health issues, and even suicide.
British teenager, Ben Bowman, attempted suicide when he failed to take what he perceived to be the ‘perfect’ selfie. Bowman became so obsessed over capturing the ‘perfect’ selfie, he would take up to 200 selfies a day. As his selfie addiction spiraled out of control, he found himself spending up to 10 hours a day trying desperately to capture the perfect image of himself. Of course, the perfect picture he was hoping for never materialised, sending him into a never ending quest that almost took his life. Fortunately, Ben got the help he needed and he was treated for technology addiction, OCD and body dysmorphia. He has since recovered and is now able to live a normal life.
But why did this happen?
A psychological point of view
It feels good to take a nice snapshot of ourselves, doesn’t it? We twist over to our better side, run some filters through and post it up on Facebook for all to see….Oh, and not forgetting, wait for the bombardment of likes and comments. Harmless fun, right?
Seeking ‘likes’ and approval is only human nature. Whilst some people argue that selfies are turning us into a nation of narcissists, psychologist have said that in moderation, selfies are a feel-good and creative way to collect and share parts of their lives, emotions and personalities.
However, some studies have shown that selfies can actually harm body image. The Department of Mental Health has warned that young people who become obsessed with the popular trends of today’s social media could lose self-confidence, and the negative impact of this could have an effect on their lives. Generally, this only becomes problematic when someone becomes fixated or over-compares themselves to others. While some people are happy to receive a few likes, others hope to achieve as many as possible. If this isn’t achieved this can have a detrimental effect on their confidence. They may decide to take the selfie down, and retake another. A vicious cycle to get caught up in. Security and self-esteem are fundamental in the development of people to achieve both happiness and personal satisfaction. The absence of this could lead to major problems such as paranoia, depression, or body dysmorphia disorder (Body dysmorphic disorder or BDD is a common mental health problem where people spend an excessive amount of time thinking about a minor or imagined defect in their physical appearance, and are distressed about it.)
Furthermore, there has been a rapid increase in plastic surgery. A shocking one in three surveyed facial plastic surgeons said the growing self-awareness due to social media had led to an increase in procedure requests.
A lot of controversy surrounds selfies being too sexualised, or suggestive. One split second selfie can have a damaging impact on someone’s life. Posting selfies in your underwear, or even nude, might seem like a good idea at the time, but most likely an idea you will later regret. It’s important to be mindful of what we are putting out there. Forty percent of 18 – 24-year-olds have admitted having taken a sexy selfie at some point in their lives. A shocking 36% say they have regretted it.
But why do people expose themselves in this way? It’s largely to do with gaining attention, but as we are aware, posting pictures of this kind will only attract the WRONG kind of attention. And when we have over a thousand followers, who knows who could be snooping through your sexy shots!
Life risking selfies
Selfies are becoming a recreational hazard. With an element to impress, people are taking more and more risks to stand out from the crowd and capture that extraordinary shot. From dangling over Cliff edges to standing on the world’s highest skyscrapers, no shot is too perilous for some thrill-seeking selfie-takers. Sadly, for some, it was a risk too far. A Polish couple plummeted to their death as they were setting up a daring selfie beyond the safety barrier, on Europe’s most western point in Cabo De Roca, Portugal. Heartbreakingly, they leave behind two small children, ages five and six.
What is most tragic about this story, is that it doesn’t stand alone. More and more fatalities are caused during these missions to capture the most surreal, or worse still, life-threatening, selfies. In July, A man trying to capture a risk-taking selfie got trampled on by a bull at the French Fetes de Bayonne. Shockingly, this isn’t the first accident involving a selfie-taker and a bull. A man, known as Christian, had gone one further – capturing video footage on his smartphone as he was chased by a bull at the Houston Bull run (watch the video below)
these examples show the growing desire to outdo one another.
Taking thrill-seeking to a whole new level is a recently established phenomenon known as rooftopping. Rooftopping is becoming more prevalent within the social media bubble, as a growing amount of people are taking greater risks to achieve the most imposing shots. What on earth is rooftopping? It’s as simple as it is stated. To capture the breath-taking views of urban landscapes, one must scale dizzying heights from the highest of roofs, pylons or mountains peaks!
Photographers Daniel Lau, Andrew Tso, and A.S. climbed (I say climb, no one really knows how the heck they got up there!) to the top of Hong Kong’s highest skyscraper to take, what might be the most dangerous selfie of all time, and erm…eat banana’s! The Centre Skyscraper stands a whopping 1,134 feet tall, not one for the light-hearted. Another example of extreme selfie-taking.
But it doesn’t stop at wild animal chases and stomach-churning heights. Last month, a 21-year-old Mexican man, Oscar Otero Aguilar, accidentally killed himself with a shot to the head while posing for a gun selfie on Facebook. Okay, so these accidents might be few and far between, but there is no denying more and more people are risking their lives with the aim to achieve that all important money shot.
Lets’ wrap it up…
It’s a fact of life; the selfie trend is ingrained into our culture. Let’s face it, we’ve all participated in it at one time or another. It’s a part of sociality that we engage without real thought because, well, everyone else is. And as these trends keep trending, these cameras will keep on clicking. It comes with no surprise that hashtag #seflie currently yields more than 31 million hits on Instagram. There’s even a song about it! What next? A selfie stick? *Laughs uncontrollably*
From Duck faces to dirty mirrors, it looks like the selfie is here to stay.
I’m off to polish my pouting skills and purchase a ‘selfie’ stick…