Selfie: a self-portrait made in a reflective object or from an arm’s length
According to Radulova (2015) the word selfie gained international attention when it was named the Oxford Dictionaries’ word of the year in 2013. The origin of the word however originated in Australia. It was first shared on an ABC forum by Australian man Nathan Hope, who shared an image of his cut lip in 2002.
Since then the selfie has erupted all over social media and is now a commonly found on most social media sites. The question that arises from the selfie taking saga is does the selfie stem from an obsession with looking at ourselves? Being in the main demographic age for selfie takers I decided to look back through my Facebook to see how many selfie’s I had posted. None. However! I have been tagged in selfies with friends. Does this mean I have an obsession with myself?
Personally I believe the selfie is not a reflection of an obsession with our self but rather a means to increase our social media status.
Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat all these apps are used for sharing information and photos online. Whilst photo sharing is an important feature of these social networks sites the emphasis is on social status. By social status I mean “what your peers think of you, whether they hold you in esteem or contempt, and the privileges that accord from this position” (Marwick 2013, pg. 74). Facebook has ‘Likes’ and ‘Friends, Instagram has ‘Likes’ and ‘Followers’ and Snapchat has ‘Best Friends’ and ‘Snapchat Score’. The higher your snap score and the more friends and followers you have determines your social media status. Posting a selfie online whether it’s a funny selfie or mirror selfie is an act to increase your social media status.
With this focus on social media status and having the largest possible following users of social media must ask themselves whether or not they are being controlled by the medium? Facebook lets you ‘un tag’ a photo however you cannot delete this photo if it is not yours. Snapchat is slightly different because it automatically deletes a photo after the time limit set expires making users feel “safer”. However is snapchat really a medium in which you’re safe? Yes the photo expires after the time limit however recipients can easily screenshot the photo without your permission.
Madden et al. (2013) explored teenager’s social media use and their privacy settings. She concluded that whilst teenagers take a public approach to social media they also employ different steps that restrict and crop their profiles. This is a promising sign however 91% post a photo of themselves, 71% post their school name, 71% post the city or town where they live, 53% post their email address and 20% post their cell phone number.
20% post their phone number! That’s crazy! You need to chill out and go back to taking selfies.
Madden M., Lenhart A., Cortesi S., Gasser U., Duggan M., Smith A., Beaton M., 2013, ‘Teens, Social Media, and Privacy’, Pew Research Centre, accessed 9/03/2016, http://www.pewinternet.org/2013/05/21/teens-social-media-and-privacy/
Radulova L. 2015, ‘Australia revealed to have invented the word ‘selfie’ as more than 2000 Aussie phrases and words are added to Oxford Dictionaries’, Daily Mail, accessed 9/03/2016, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3061118/Australia-revealed-invented-word-selfie-2000-Aussie-phrases-words-added-Oxford-Dictionaries.html