The formal definition of the word, for those of you not familiar with social media, is a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically using a smartphone or a point and shoot camera which is then uploaded to a social media website, may it be on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
It’s really easy; you just flip the view on your camera, hold it at a high angle, position your thumb on your best side, and voila! You just took a selfie.
All over social media, you can usually see the person’s arm holding out the camera (or the monopod). Selfies taken that involve multiple people are known as “group selfies”. This tongue-in-cheek Australian slang definition doesn’t make taking a selfie any less popular. The subjects of these photos have started to trade peace signs, duck lips, (and with Miley Cyrus’s outbreak) the most infamous “tongue-out”.
“Selfie” being Oxford’s English Dictionary 2013 Word of the Year, beating out “Twerk” and other internet and social media related terms. It’s no doubt that everyone has at least taken a selfie.
Self-portraits or selfies have been around since photography became an affordable hobby for millions in the mid-19th century. Robert Cornelius, an American pioneer in the photography, produced a daguerreotype of himself in 1839 which is also one of the first photographs of a person.
Russian Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna at the age of 13 was one of the first teenagers to take her own picture using a mirror to send a friend in 1914. In the letter that accompanied the photograph, she wrote, “I took this picture myself looking at the mirror. It was very hard as my hand were trembling.”
Selfies before looked like portrait paintings as the sitter had to remain still for long periods of time. That’s why portrait people look dull as it was painful to sit and smile for twenty minutes. Yes. Twenty long minutes! Imagine that posing with your “duck lips” for that time duration.
The introduction of the portable Kodak Brownie box camera in 1900 led to photographic self-portraiture becoming a more widespread technique as we know them today, a selfie.
Selfies have taken the world of social media. It opened up another outlet for both the young and older people in this generation to express one’s individuality in many ways possible. From teenage girls taking photos of oneself in their dirty bathroom mirror, to forever alone guys who take selfies in bed pretending to sleep with the caption, “Awwe. My girlfriend took a photo of me while I was sleeping.” How sweet. (When you can clearly see the shadow of his own hand holding the camera in the background), to a simply narcissist person being in vain, who just loves taking selfies to almost everything (from taking a selfie with a person, food, animals, babies, and everything else that you can think of).
Oscars 2014 host Ellen Degeneres has taken a record-breaking ‘selfie’ with, brace yourself (left-to-right): Jared Leto, Jennifer Lawrence, Channing Tatum, Meryl Steep, Julia Roberts, Kevin Spacey, Bradley Cooper, Brad Pitt, Lupita Nyong’O, Peter Nyong’O and Angelina Jolie. She had Bradley Cooper take the photo, which she captioned, “If only Bradley’s arm was longer. Best photo ever. #oscars”. It then went viral on Twitter having retweeted for about 3 million.
The “Papal” Selfie
The photo was taken with a smartphone belonging to one of these youngsters inside St. Peter’s Basilica which was then posted on social media. Pope Francis has given new meaning to the #blessed hashtag by posing for a few papal selfies to these young teens.
This is the amazing selfie taken in space, and it could possibly be the best one yet. When it comes to International Space Station astronaut Aki Hoshide’s perfectly reflected Earth-space selfie, Buzzfeed reporter Andrew Kaczynski said it best when he tweeted, “There are selfies, and then, well there are selfies.”
Social media have provided us many outstanding ways of expressing ourselves, most of the time we are not able to actually make use of it for the greater good. So before you tilt that camera and click for a pose, ask yourself if it’s really necessary for you to take that Selfie. Remember, not every Selfie has to be shared.