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Selfies Reach Profound Popularity


Technology Minute: The Perfect Selfie from PGTV NEWS on Vimeo.

Article Republished from Spring 2013 – 3rd place VHSL Writing/Photo/Design Award 2013

It is a testament to the popularity of the selfie that a Google Image search brings up 17, 700,000 images when a user types in the single search term “selfie.” What began as an online trend, in the long-gone days of MySpace, has become a commonplace around the world and in Prince George county.

A selfie is a picture of the subject taken by the subject, usually in a mirror or with a front facing camera on a cell phone. Selfies have been made famous by celebrities like Justin Bieber and Rihanna. The selfie has even made its debut in space, when Japanese astronaut, Akihiko Hoshide, took a shot of himself floating in his space suit.

Selfies are likely to show up in any typical teenager’s Instagram or Twitter feed. Most people have taken selfies of themselves to use as a profile or cover image. Some even have entire Facebook albums of self-portraits.

A popular form of the selfie is the #ootd or “outfit of the day”, which can be seen or all major social networks and has inspired many “outfit of the day” blogs.

A popular angle to take a selfie is from above, with the subject looking up at the camera, which has a slimming effect on the face. Often seen in selfies are the duck face and peace signs.

Sophomore Rebecca Jarratt takes selfies on a regular basis and posts them on Instagram and occasionally Facebook if she wants a new profile picture.

“If you take a picture yourself, you can look at it afterwards,” Jarratt said. “If other people take it, you’re not sure if it turned out right.” Junior Bradley Smithson feels the same.

“Selfies are easy to take[ by yourself]. It can be awkward to ask someone else to take a picture of you, especially if takes fifty times to get the right one,”Smithson said.

Jarratt believes technology has led to the rise of the selfie.

“Now there’s front-facing cameras [on smart phones] that make selfies really easy to take,” Jarratt said. “Social networking has also led to more selfies, because we all want people to see what are friends are doing.”

Photography teacher Kendell Weston also believes that technology is involved behind the evolution of the selfie.

“[This] generation is born and bred through social media. It’s Instagram, it’s Facebook, it used to be MySpace. They can pop a picture and post it in a matter of seconds. That ties in with the popularity of selfies,” Weston said. “If it weren’t for the phones with good quality cameras and social media, selfies wouldn’t exist.”

Self image is another factor in taking a selfie. Taking a self-portrait allows the subject to control how others perceive them online.

“It seems that the people who take more selfies have a high opinion of themselves or put more emphasis on other’s opinions,” Weston said. “Any appearance [you present] can sway others’ opinion of you. If you’re always posting creepy pictures, people are going to think you’re creepy.”

Although the idea of the “selfie” seems to be an expression of individuality, it actually can be traced back psychological and sociological idea of oneself. Charles Horton Cooley is credited with the concept of “the looking glass self.” He believed that, “we imagine how we appear to others, imagine the judgement of that appearance, and develop ourself though the judgments of other.” Therefore, people are very interested in making their “selfies” look as presentable as possible. While for some a selfie requires an outfit change, make-up, and elaborate hair, Jarratt has a simpler process.

“I prepare for a selfie by fixing my hair and my makeup, if I’m already wearing some,” Jarratt said. “If I’m not, I don’t bother.”

Smithson has a similar mentality.

“I don’t prepare to take a selfie. I just take it,” he said.

Smithson posts a few selfies a week on Facebook and Twitter.

Almost as frequent as regular selfies there are intentionally unflattering selfies, usually accompanied by ridiculous facial expressions and captioned with hashtags like,#prettygirlsuglyfaces, #handsomeguysuglyfaces, and/or #uglyselfie.

“If you’re smiling in every picture, it’s boring,” Jarratt said. “I make other faces to mix it up.”

Logging onto Facebook? A selfie is sure to pop up and greet you.

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