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Op-ed: Selfie: the phenomenon

By: Rangadevi Chakraborty

We all know the phenomenon, the selfie.

Most of us have placed at least one selfie on any of our social media accounts, and since the introduction of Snapchat, the selfies have only gained in popularity.

But, what’s all behind it, besides our continuous duck faces and fake momentary smiles?

First introduced by Robert Cornelius’ self-portrait in the late 1830s, and reborn during the growth of Facebook, the selfie had its continuous evolutions, from the Myspace bathroom mirror flash pic in the early 2000’s to the 16-megapixel selfie stick of today.

One of its great improvements has been the front-facing camera of the iPhones.

Don’t forget that a selfie is not to be confused with the self-timer on the camera (that function where you place the whole family in front of the camera, click the 10-second button and mumble cheese until your jaws ache).

The psychology behind the posting of a selfie is quite diverse, and the variety of peoples’ lives allows selfies for different reasons and occasions, such as doing groceries, eating, sleeping, meeting your idols or taking a poop.

Studies have shown though, that there are a few motives that have influenced more people to post selfies than ever before.

One of those is our ever increasing ability to convey emotions without even having to take the effort of a conversation, streamlining our daily discussions to two words and a picture. Again, think Snapchat.

Seeing that we’ve gone from a generation of storytellers to a generation of actors is remarkable, since the typing machine also preceded the camera in recent history.

Another reason to continually post selfies is the never ending rat race that we find ourselves in.

Everyone constantly has to become prettier, skinnier and more popular, and it seems that the only way to acquire those characteristics is to edit the pictures rather than editing our own person.

“I have mixed feelings,” said Jessica Desouza, first semester nursing student. “I think that people shouldn’t measure their self worth on the amount of likes.”

The selfie, in general, makes everything look young and perky, but often with the caption: “Oh I’m so ugly/fat/stupid.”

Life seems to be beautiful, but behind the smiles are often a lot of tears and shame.

In the last few years, many have stood up against the smiling mob, raising their fists and posting ugly, fat and “real” selfies in order to bring people back to the real life, of flesh and blood.

Even famous and powerful people like Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Whiz Khalifa take selfies almost everywhere.

Taking selfies shows that they’re people too, just like you and me, and that they share our weakness for attention.

Journalists all over the world have condemned Obama’s selfies at Nelson Mandela’s memorial ceremony, describing it as narcissistic and awkward.

What makes us accept our own selfies at funerals, church or prisons, but judge the famous people in their right to a selfie?

Well, since we aren’t idols to others, our selfies are less widely seen and apparently we don’t have to keep up with the same moral standard as we keep our representatives in the government to.

We can post selfies on the toilet and no one will care, but if Obama would exercise his right to a toilet selfie, he’d be sure to receive much negative fan mail.

Although, you’ll always have those straight-forward, down to earth people like Michael Pepper of Plant Operations who said, “I don’t give a damn about them selfies.”

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