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From Selfie To Chelfie

As social media narcissism reaches new highs (or lows), Emma Brand says it’s journalism’s job to make use of a new resource – the chelfie.

We have always been narcissistic: the Internet only allows us to express this side of ourselves more easily. If the cave men had Instagram they would have been posting selfies too, and updating the world on their latest cave paintings.

The problem for journalism is how to connect with a generation which does narcissism to the max, without allowing itself to be reduced to the same level. After all, interest in other people – rather than ourselves – must be one of the defining characteristics of journalism, right?

The latest in the selfie trend is the chelfie. This is taking selfies in shop changing room mirrors, and uploading them to get instant approval before buying a new outfit. Head designer and creative director of Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld, has even put iPads in the flagship Chanel store so all visitors can take chelfies.

A recent survey published on WGSN, the leading trend forecaster, shows that the amount of chelfie posts on Twitter has doubled in the last three months. Women wait for an average of three likes before making a purchase, and men wait for at least four; but some admit they won’t make the purchase if it gets less than 10 likes.

People always want opinions on what they are buying and this is just the latest way of getting them – before the chelfie, they would ask the opinion of the shop assistants and whoever they were out shopping with. The chelfie is just doing this but on a much larger scale – asking the opinions of people from all around the world in seconds.

Pollpic is an app that has been inspired by the chelfie trend. It allows you to simply take a chelfie and put it to the vote of friends and the public.

But when people start dying while trying to take the perfect selfie it should be proof that the obsession has gone too far.

Phoebe Luckhurst’s article ‘From tragic selfie deaths to instagramming on the go- its official, vanity has gone viral’, talks about how Instagram has made everyone narcissistic, but in reality if they did not self-advertise on that particular platform, they would just find another way of doing it.

People take selfies as a way to showcase their lives. The likes give you more self-confidence and can make you feel like you are living your life in the right way.
People are trying to fill the social media norm of making their lives look extraordinary, they will spend ages looking for the perfect angle and perfect lighting. But because everyone knows how long they spend doing, this it is not as impressive. We are all just living in a false reality.

You can make yourself and your life look better, because you have control and you can take the photo as many times as you want, without having to bother other people. Then you can pick the perfect filter and crop the photo to hide your imperfections. You have control over how your life looks; you only post the photos on Instagram that you want other people to see.

But has it gone too far? You no longer have to talk to your friends and tell them what you are doing because they will see it online. This is fine up to a certain point, but Instagram shouldn’t stop us socialising in the real world.

The important thing for everyone to remember in this selfie-chelfie world, is that you are not defined by the amount of likes you get.

Something else for journalists to think about, is that the chelfie – however self-indulgent – is also a mirror to the times; chelfies reveal the needs, desires and above all the anxieties of millions of people. Taken together, therefore, they also provide documentation of who we are and what we are worried about. So it’s up to journalists to find a way of using the chelfie as a resource for describing and understanding the times we live in.

I mean, that is journalism’s job, isn’t it?

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