Breaking news, people! The English language has officially added one more word to its repertoire: selfie. Say, what? The Oxford English Dictionary has included the social media invention into its world-renowned collection. I did not think it could be possible given that the origin of the selfie is relatively new and unknown. But in this new era of media convergence, dictionaries have to be cool and hip too, right? They have found a way.
Once I heard the news via Man Repeller, flashbacks kept coming at me of the first traces of selfies I can remember. It all started with the popularity of MySpace, then Facebook, then Instagram, and as the online platforms evolutioned, so did the tools and ways of taking selfies. First, we flipped the camera so that the lens faced ourselves, leaving us with blurry images and cropped faces. Along with this sudden flip, came the Photobooth installed in our iMacs and the mini webcams built-in to our PCs. Then came camera phones, which later transformed into iPhone 5’s with frontal cameras. It’s been quite a journey for the craft of selfies.
While I did take my fair share of selfies in the 8th grade, I grew apart from them once duck faces and middle fingers were being included. The content of said selfies were not only faces, hair and a few facial expressions. Now, outfits, cleavage, and even mirrors were in the mix. Not only that, the necessity of keeping the pictorial flow growing in a Facebook or Instagram account was becoming addictive. Only then, did I ever started asking myself how acceptable was this new form of chronicling ones life? How necessary is it? What’s acceptable? What are the boundaries and who dictates them?
Considering that selfies are an invention with no more than five years of history, it’s only a matter of trial and error. As with any new relationship, friendship, talent or technological device, we can only know the art of selfie-taking by indulging in it.
I recognize that selfies are not everyone’s cup of tea, starting with myself. As a social media advocate and devotee, I accept that selfies have become a way to chronicle ones life and share it with the world. But at some point you have to ask yourself if showing your cleavage and butt crack while duckface-ing is necessary in your life. If 80% of your Instagram and Facebook photos include your face being shot from your own phone in a mirror or through a frontal camera, you are officially a descendent of Narcissus. Case dismissed.
Unlike the new definition implemented by the Oxford English Dictionary (which calls taking selfies everyday an unnecessary act), I will not dictate what’s necessary and what’s not because clearly I have posted quite a number of selfies during my years connected to social media. On the other hand, I have to question where it becomes too much. Is it when you have 50 selfies out of 60 Facebook mobile uploads or when you post a picture of yourself reflected on a mirror wearing only a bra and panties? I think both.