The Art of Selfies

According to the Oxford dictionary, (yes, selfie is now in the dictionary), a selfie is “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.”  We are all guilty of it. We do it at the gym, in bathrooms, at parties, on the bus, anywhere we can think of.  Some of us will even spend an hour straightening our hair and putting on make-up…just…to…take….a selfie? We don’t even have plans to go out yet.  But we’re bored, and we can always use an ego-boost, so let’s get all dolled up just for our Instagram followers. It’s like our confidence level is dependent on the number of likes we get, whether it be on our profile picture or status or whatever else we post to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or any of the other various forms of social media.  

But selfies are on a more personal level.  You know, if you post a music video and no one likes it, maybe no one else likes that song, or maybe no one had the chance to listen.  But when you post a selfie, you know almost everyone is going to see it.  So when only 2 out of your 1,946 friends like your selfie, you’re bound to feel a little less than average.  But maybe your selfie-game just isn’t on point.

I’ve been taking selfies for years, so I like to think I’m an expert by now.  I got 135 likes on a selfie I took with a kangaroo, so I’m a pretty credible source (the kangaroo might’ve helped, but that’s not the point). I will fully admit that I look much better on Instagram than I ever will in real life.  But I consider that a talent.  There is an art to taking selfies, and I would love to share that talent with you, but it all comes with practice.  You learn with time that it’s all about the angle, the lighting, the filter.  You can’t just expect to carelessly take a picture of yourself and look flawless, unless you’re one of those people, in which case, I hate you and I don’t know why you’re even reading this. Go be perfect somewhere else.  Some of us don’t look that great all the time, or ever.  But we’ve mastered the art of selfies so people think we’re more attractive than we actually are.  At least my internet self is pretty good looking.

The art of selfies goes way back to the Neanderthal days of Myspace and “scene queens”.  I remember (and cringe) when I think about my old Myspace display name that read “EM0 BARBIE” and my About Me section that said “I’ll be wearing Abercrombie one day, and Hot Topic the next, so DON’T EVEN TRY TO PUT A LABEL ON ME.” Gee, was I cool! Telling other people not to label me as I was the one putting a label on myself.  But we were all thirteen once, and we can laugh about it now.  And while the minor profile details definitely said a lot about who I was trying to be perceived as, there was nothing more prominent than the profile picture.

If you wanted to fit certain stereotypes, your profile picture had to meet certain standards, and this still applies to the selfies we take today.  If you want to show off how often you party, you’re probably going to be holding a red solo cup in your picture.  Or if you want to look cultured, you’re going to be standing next to some historical landmark.  Sometimes, our selfies show nothing more than us trying to look good. There are your typical #OOTD selfies, the ones you post of your face looking exactly the same from day to day, the only variation being the color of your shirt.  There’s the duck face, quite similar to the “kissyfishy” face.  There’s the tongue-sticking out because I’m obviously so much fun to be around!  A simple smile usually looks the best.  Black and white photos are cute occasionally, but don’t over do it.  If you’re trying to take a quality selfie, you probably shouldn’t take it from that super high emo-kid angle anymore either.   That phase was a dark period for all of us and it needs to disappear. I promise you will just look creepy.  You never want to take a selfie with the camera pointing up from a low angle either.  That will just make you look like you have eighty billion chins. The double chin may be of rising level for all those who Snapchat, but it is not recommended anywhere else. On Snapchat, your selfies will only last up to ten seconds, and then no one will ever be able to see it again, so you figure you might as well look as ugly as possible.  Be careful with that.  Screenshots are very easy to take.  Your ugly selfies are safe nowhere.

That’s the thing with selfies.  Once you post it, there is no turning back.  You can delete it, sure, but more than likely it’s too late, your friends/followers have already seen it.  So you better make sure you look good if you’re going to post a selfie.  One ugly selfie can haunt you for the rest of your life.  Trust me, I would know.

It’s like this in all forms of social media. Our Facebooks, Twitters, Tumblrs, and so on. Not just in our pictures, but in everything we share.  Everything you post on the internet can likely come back to haunt you years from now.  Which is probably why we are so concerned with making ourselves look good.  We try to look more interesting and more appealing than we are in real life. I mean, if our lives were really that interesting, would uploading pictures to Facebook really be our number one priority? Probably not.  But I went hiking last week which obviously makes me really cool so I’m going to upload 300 pictures of trees and dirt and show the world how adventurous and earthly I am.  Meanwhile, I haven’t left my bed since that day, as I am too busy refreshing Facebook and hoping to get more “likes” on my album than anyone else.  So yeah, it is a bit silly.  But it’s important in today’s society to have a cool, up-to-date social media profile.   And even more importantly, some quality selfies.

Basically, our selfies define us.  They show the world who we are, as we want them to see us.  They are meant to make us look good.  The importance of selfies in the social networking world has been relevant for as long as we can remember, and it’s definitely a trend that isn’t fading any time soon.  So keep working on those duck lips and show the world how good you can make yourself look.

Photo Credit: kz-kz.deviantart.com

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