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The Rise of the Selfie

What it Is:
As a relatively new lexicon born out of the internet slang, a selfie is a genre of self-portrait photography, typically taken with a handheld digital camera or camera phone. As such, it is a photo of yourself, usually taken by you.

Selfies are often associated with social networking sites and photosharing services such as Facebook, MySpace and Instagram, where they are commonly posted. Furthermore, they are typically taken with a camera held at arm’s length or in a mirror.


Fed by today’s permeating celebrity culture, there is a mania for sharing self-taken photographs online. According to a recent BBC article, the first smartphone with a forward-facing camera was the watershed moment. In fact, although the word has existed for quite some years now, Time magazine noted that selfie was among its “top 10 buzzwords” of 2012. There’s surely no denying that the selfie has become all pervasive.

The list of genres in selfies on networking sites seems to be endless, with names as ‘fitness selfies’, ‘topless bathroom selfies’, ‘fail selfies’ and even ‘dog shit selfies’. There is a certain humor value to it, particularly the selfies that parody present day’s body obsessed culture, but at the same time the exponential rise of the selfie is symptomatic of our time.

In our consumerist and media-suffused culture, there is a growing obsession for the self. Consequently, it is even claimed that a “new era of public narcissism is mutating with new media forms”, resulting in more and more people having an inflated sense of self-importance and a need for constant attention. Taking this reasoning further, could this be the reason why the narcissist personality disorder is taken out of the latest¬†D.S.M.¬†psychiatric handbook?

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