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A glimpse into the evolution of the selfie reveals that some selfies are better left unshared
I’ve never been a big fan of selfies and tend to think a little bit less of people when they post selfies on Facebook. Especially if they’re over the age of 14. Downshots make everyone look better, so quit already.
“Selfie” was such a widely used term in 2013 that it’s been named the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year.
To be clear, “Selfie” isn’t a new word. In fact, it was added to the Oxford Dictionaries Online earlier this year (though it hasn’t yet made it into the Oxford English Dictionary). While the word didn’t really rise to prominence until 2012, it’s actually been around a lot longer than most of us would think. The Oxford English Corpus dates the earliest known usage of the word back to 2002 in an online Australian forum:
“Um, drunk at a mates 21st, I tripped ofer [sic] and landed lip first (with front teeth coming a very close second) on a set of steps. I had a hole about 1cm long right through my bottom lip. And sorry about the focus, it was a selfie.”
Lo! A selfie in the wild!
Of course, now that smartphones have become so ubiquitous that there’s really no reason why you shouldn’t have one (for God’s sake, you can get an iPhone for free now! Stop being lazy!), the selfie has become standard fare for social media. And it has evolved and made way for Tumblr blogs like Selfies at Serious Places—which is exactly what it sounds like, only worse, because “serious places” means concentration camps and Chernobyl. (The most recent one was a self-submitted one, which is…confusing.)
And the selfie has transmogrified into something even more obnoxious: bookshelfies. That’s a selfie taken in front of your bookshelf so that everyone can see how well-read you are. Oh my goodness, you read every single one of the Song of Fire and Ice books? Well color me impressed.
Overall, selfies had a big year in the news. The media was all aflutter this summer when Pope Francis was captured in a selfie—although, to be clear, the Pope did not take the selfie. That would be too cool, bordering on hip, which would make him suspiciously relatable.
And then President Obama took a Selfie at a Serious Place: Nelson Mandela’s funeral—ill-advised, in retrospect. The image—a candid photo of a candid photo—quickly went viral and was arguably more talked about in the U.S. than the actual funeral.
So, as we enter the new year, let’s try to be mindful of the fact that not all selfies are good selfies.
Image source: theladiesfinger.com
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