The director of the Media Psychology Research Center, Dr. Pamela Rutledge, thinks that the selfie is being over-analyzed. First, she says: ”they aren’t really that new”. She published in her column for Psychology Today that the term selfie was defined in UrbanDictionary.com in 2005, now, ”they’re just more prevalent”.
Knowing whether famous people or teenagers were the first users is a real doubt. Anyway both of them have demonstrated a compulsive tendency to self-portrait with their mobile phones to publish the snapshot on social networks. This craze has become so popular that even Obama himself takes his own selfies.
The use of the word has become so commonplace that the Oxford Dictionary has named it the English word of the year 2013. Although the word is not new, (its origin date was in Australia in 2002 on an internet forum), it has been this year when, without any doubt, the term has achieved fame, reigning supreme.
In November, Oxford Dictionary defined “selfie” as “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website”. They are often casual, mostly taken either with a camera held at arm’s length or in a mirror. Sometimes the selfie includes only the photographer, sometimes the photographer and as many people as can be in focus. Selfies involving multiple people are known as “group selfies”.
This inclusion in the dictionary is just a sign of its success. The fact that the selfie has even taken the big leap to advertising makes clear that it is on a true winning streak.
But the trade seems to have some tricks. Selfies should either clearly show that the person in the shot is also the photographer, or they should hide the fact that the photographer is also the subject. On the other hand great selfies are often a matter of a great backdrop where lighting is everything. Experts recommend using natural light. Taking your picture from above or using a mirror is a helpful tool. And the most important: the selfie must give the impression of a quick, instant, sudden snapshot, although you may have needed to take copious amounts of photos.
Selfies can be a fun form of self-expression, but they are definitely a reflection of an increasingly narcissistic generation who has seen its path smoothed by social media to show off to the world. For artists it can be a good way of publicity, of immortalizing a life that otherwise would be ephemeral. But the selfie culture is moving from entertainment to politics,turning politicians into narcissists as well.
Jim Krause, designer, photographer and author of over two-dozen books about design, believes that shooting selfies does not mean that you have to share each of them with everyone in the world. “Selfies, like many personal indulgences, can be abused. It’s all a matter of when, how, and how often you shoot and share them.”
· Alexandra Sifferlin (September 6, 2013) Why Selfies Matter. Retrieved December 25, 2013 from http://www.samachar.com/The-Meaning-of-Selfies-njgxMPibbcc.html
· Jo Barrow (December 11, 2013) Obama and Cameron’s selfie was a human moment. Let’s not castigate them for it. Retrieved December 25, 2013 from http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/obama-and-camerons-selfie-was-a-human-moment-lets-not-castigate-them-for-it-8997678.html
· Lauren Tuck (December 3, 2013) ‘Selfie’ or ‘Science’? Merriam-Webster and Oxford Battle Over the Word of the Year. Retrieved December 26, 2013 from http://shine.yahoo.com/healthy-living/selfie-science-merriam-webster-oxford-battle-over-word-210800377.html
· BBC (November 19, 2013) Selfie’ named by Oxford Dictionaries as word of 2013. Retrieved December 26, 2013 from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-24992393
· Sergio Daniel (December 15, 2013) Selfie. Retrieved 28, 2013 from http://www.elperiodicoextremadura.com/noticias/opinion/selfie_775283.html
· Tori Telfer (November, 2012) How To Take a Selfie: Pro Photographers Give Us All Their Best Self-Portrait Secrets. Retrieved December 28, 2013 from http://www.bustle.com/articles/7142-how-to-take-a-selfie-pro-photographers-give-us-all-their-best-self-portrait-secrets
· Trey Barrineau (December 5, 2013) ‘Selfie’ named word of the year for 2013. Retrieved December 28, 2013 from http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/people/2013/11/18/selfie-named-word-of-the-year-2013/3634727/
· GMANews (November 19, 2013) ‘Selfie’ beats ‘Twerk’ as Oxford word of the year. Retrieved December 28, 2013 from http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/336082/lifestyle/artandculture/selfie-beats-twerk-as-oxford-word-of-the-year
· Ben Zimmer (November 22, 2013) No, a Drunken Australian Man Did Not Coin the Word Selfie. Retrieved December 30, 2013 from http://www.slate.com/blogs/lexicon_valley/2013/11/22/selfie_etymology_an_australian_man_takes_a_photo_of_his_lip_after_falling.html