This week Chanel's creative director Karl Lagerfeld dubbed selfies a form of "electronic masturbation." While I'm not inclined to agree with everything he dictates, I earnestly support his latest statement. I hate selfies.
In an interview with The Guardian, Lagerfeld expressed his distaste for the obscurely angled duck faces which have become commonplace on our social media feeds. "They are this horrible thing where you are distorted. The chin is too big, the head is too small. No, this is electronic masturbation."Selfies at their best are, like the fashion magnate claims, narcissistic and unashamedly self-gratifying. At worst? A sorry way to define a generation and a potentially damaging by-product of a liberating medium.
However, it's no new concept. While 2013 proclaimed "selfie" the word of the year, taking a picture of yourself really close up has been around for ages. It seems we're pretty stretched to remember a time before Facebook and Instagram, but if you cast your mind back far enough you might just recall MySpace. Generation Y were all "emos" back then and the downward-angled-fringe-in-the-eyes profile picture was our digital uniform. But when FB was born those pictures, along with our taste in ska music, dissipated.
Then came Instagram and amateur self portraits returned. And this time they had a name. Overnight it became okay to spam your "friends" with really close up pictures of your face - they expected it too. Now it's completely normal and what's more, if you badmouth selfies, you're actually badmouthing self expression... Apparently.
Supporters argue selfies are "a way for people (mostly young women) to express themselves and to show pride in who they are," but I fail to see the good in a medium that promotes physical attractiveness as the most important quality we can possibly possess.
Facebook and Instagram aren't just places to prove what an incredible and fulfilled life you're living, but a way in which to show you are attractive and worthy of others' time. It suggests a warped way of thinking; in order to be happy with yourself other people have to be happy with you first.
What happens if I'd rather not? I have taken a grand total of one selfie in my lifetime and vow never to take another. I'd just had my face painted on by a makeup artist and thought to myself: "If I'm ever going to take a selfie, now's the time to do it." So I stared vacantly into my iPhone lens took about 18 photos, picked the best, chose the filter that made my skin look the smoothest and shared the result on Instagram.
For the next few hours I was glued to my phone, constantly checking to see how many people had liked my selfie. I got 11. Conclusion? I'm an ugly mother f*cker who needs to go live in a cave.
But even my aversion to selfies winds me up. When everyone who's anyone is trying to out-selfie each other and the battle is reported in the press, it's difficult to be passive and not participate. After the "Oscars selfie" was re-tweeted a gazillion times I prayed we'd reached the pinnacle, but it's not going down without a fight.
It all plays into digital popularity. Perhaps I'm just bitter over the pitiful amount of followers I have on Instagram. Perhaps if I posted selfies I'd get more "likes". Perhaps I'd feel more confident and self-assured if everyone confirmed my face is indeed acceptable, even agreeable. Because when it comes down to it, your happiness in life merely equates to how much people appreciate you on the internet.
Of course this isn't the case, but you could lay no blame on my generation for sincerely believing it to be true.
I hope, in X years time, we'll have more to look back on than photos of our faces.
MORE! Why uploading selfies to Facebook could very well be damaging to your real-world relationships...