sisterhood social media & technology

Say it with Selfies

by Wendy — April 9, 2013

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Let’s face it, you can’t be in a public space for two minutes without witnessing someone striking a well-rehearsed, come-hither stare and snapping a picture of herself. Not here in Manila anyway. Key in “celebrity selfies,” and Google spits out an array of familiar personalities in varying states of undress, faces and bodies angled this way and that, seducing an imaginary audience.

You know what I’m talking about. The arm extended way out, the smartphone that may or may not be part of the composition, the pout, the downturned chin and the upturned gaze, the adolescent pop star’s  feigned surprise as he Instagrams himself, capturing a moment manufactured exclusively for capture. The instantaneous self-portrait has become the new normal. The artist’s muse is his six-pack; the curator curates her own cleavage.

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Outlets for narcissism and vanity have always existed, but the Digital Age has provided everyone the means to go gangbusters on the obsessive documentation and immediate broadcast of one’s corporeal self. Not only has this form of self-absorbed self-expression become acceptable, but not embracing it leaves one feeling like a throwback to a darker age when people still licked stamps.

Maybe we all just want approval and validation in the easiest way we can get it. Maybe we just want some measure of control over how we’re seen by others. Or maybe we’re bored and just want to make like a supermodel. But when forced to look at selfies, I feel like that poor soul cornered by someone who won’t stop talking about his bathroom habits. Nothing morally or ethically wrong with unabashed oversharing, but personally, I would much rather be licking stamps.

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  • Cheney

    Wendy, I totally sympathize. But at the same time, I’m thinking it’s probably a good thing that you’re not following me on Instagram 😀 ! I’m on holiday right now, so there may be a wee bit of oversharing and the occasional selfie. I guess I do it because it’s an easy way to share what I’m up to, and I really like looking at other people’s pictures too and getting little visual stories. I know it only shows the good, and never the bad, but that’s like anything we’re excited to share.

    • Wendy

      Cheney, I would follow you on Instagram anytime. I won’t even pretend to be in any way objective about judging selfies. With people I like, I freely apply a double standard: I will find their selfies adorable. But if you are, say, someone who has a reality show, and whose sisters’ names start with “K,” there will be mocking.

  • Niffer

    the only thing worse than a selfie is the couples selfie… sharing your narcissism together for the whole world to see!

  • Victoria

    Here we go again. I was at sea what a selfie was until I read your article. I am so behind the times. I still use the word exercise instead of workout, remember? But in today’s world, people are so self-engrossed that they do not care if they create a spectacle or causing a traffic jam in a mall just so that they can immortalize and post their pictures. Who cares?!? It is so tiring to see people idolize themselves on Facebook, thinking that everyone would be so entertained to see their narcissism. It makes me want to scream!

  • Kay

    I am guilty of a selfie once in awhile especially when traveling by myself. I admit there were times when I wish I had an arm extension. I once saw a fellow solo traveler who had an antenna extension handle attached to her iphone and was taking a photo of herself everywhere but as if someone was taking it for her. It was so brilliant and embarrassing at the same time I secretly wished I had one and her narcissistic nerve to actually use it in public.

  • Hazel

    Your incisive paring down of what constitutes a selfie and why these walking billboards are utterly shameless about letting it all hang out for the entire world to see and hear is right on the money. This is inspired stuff, may I dare ask by who? Let me venture a wild guess! In any event, this gives me incentive to leave my digital camera/smartphone/tablet behind on my next sojourn and simply take it all in – the sights, the sounds, the exciting new tastebud experiences and even poignant reflections on the current state of their economies – and just not share with anyone how I feel about every given moment. Now, THAT is a Selfie!

  • Irma

    i’d say if there’s no one else who will take the photo or there’s the danger of people running off with your phone/camera if you ask them to take the pic and the moment absolutely has to be captured and shared….go right ahead!

    if you can’t stop yourself, just please limit the sharing to only those who, as Wendy said, like you…or those whom you extremely dislike and wish to torture.