The selfie - how many times, angles or ugly faces do we need to pull, capture and share before the novelty wears off? Despite being a young, white, heterosexual twenty one year old, with north of a thousand Facebook friends, the novelty never started. However, my frustration at this peculiar social construction will exist for as long as this phenomenon does. To me, they are a worrying product of our obsession to prioritise cyber profiles over real life. Reality has become a performance for us to snap and share on the superficial platform of social media. It feels as if the selfie has become commonly categorised as 'fun' with little questioning of what we are actually doing.
Popularity of the selfie is reliant on other people's support in a culture that promotes insecure narcissism. The underlying mentality is based on a mindless reciprocity of, "I'll like your post if you like mine". People are no longer confident to experience life alone as we are compelled to gain validation through the endorsement of our public displays of 'fun'. Our activities are no longer significant unless other people can see them, nor can a moment be fully enjoyed until gaining confirmation that our upload has been well received. The present has been reduced to a plan of how best to capture the future.
Stop pouting, posing, pulling and contorting - the selfie has institutionalised vanity and made it a social norm. This act of self-indulgence has made striking a pose at every opportunity an obsession. The only thing more aggravating than the selfie itself is the uncomfortable process of seeing one being taken. The staging of a selfie-set helps to align the selfie in to one of three categories: the 'I'm fit and I know it' with a pre-going out vibe, 'the comedic ugly' - so squeeze out every role of fat, and the 'look at me at a landmark'. Any which way, they're stupid.
Excuse me in the living room :D
My favourite is the pre-going out selfie. It screams; you got dressed, you rate yourself and nobody else was around to take it, p.s. please ignore the toilet in the bottom left of the picture. Ultimately it's you, normally in a bedroom or bathroom, with a front facing camera getting dressed. A photograph is meant to capture something, a memory, an event, a moment, but a selfie is a public celebration of your outfit that says, "I look good, don't I? ;)" You don't go to a party and say to your host, "Hello, don't I look fantastic, please like me," but on social media that's not a problem - it's normal.
Alarm bells should be ringing that the 'faux-ugly selfie' considers the performance of unattractiveness, usually in the form of being fat, as 'funny'. If we genuinely felt unattractive would we seek affirmation of that being the case? Hypothetically, if I were to comment on a 'funny' selfie and say, "Martin, you look really fat and ugly in this pic, job well done!" - that would be rude. But the aim is to attract the vacuous commodity of approval, 'the like'. My issue is the absence of questioning what this act of confirmation denotes, if it holds any meaning at all. We have developed an unquenchable thirst for attention and it is puzzling that this bizarre social media etiquette, that is totally unacceptable in real life, has evolved in this way.
If an arm's length for a selfie wasn't enough, there is the facility to purchase accessories to fulfil the ambition to see ourselves from even more angles. I appreciate that the front facing camera may be useful if you're out, something gets caught in your teeth and it needs to be removed, but there is no need for the selfie-stick. At best the selfie is an aid to being spontaneous and seizing the moment, but the introduction of the stick makes it the complete opposite. It is an apparatus that is impractical to carry and demands preplanning. Go somewhere to go somewhere, not to be seen there.
Our self-obsession has no bounds with the advent of the selfie - we have become the subject and object of our self-obsession. We are the photographer, the editor and our own best form of entertainment. The selfie has become an unfortunate symptom of a social media autopilot. We do it because it's 'the done thing', but we need to withdraw, reflect and question what we're doing. Frenzied self-publication on social media reduces reality down to a resource that merely services our online presence. By entertaining ourselves with ourselves, we enact, snap, share and become more concerned with imitation than experience. Our obsession to create an impression hollows out real moments as we fixate on being the star in our self-made show.