Jack Pattinson warns against investing the selfie with too much authority.
In the past, the very idea of a photo with only yourself in it would have seemed boring, strange and somewhat pointless. I myself can remember a time when I did not selfie everything I did along with every place I visited or person I met for brunch. Being a fairly recent phenomenon, I don’t think anybody is all that sure as to the real use of the selfie. For many years my idea of a selfie was the accidental photo you took when trying to take a spontaneous snap and then realising you were using your front facing camera, forever taking myself by surprise. But a selfie is fast becoming something like an art form, a key skill that more and more of us are desperate to perfect. It would appear selfies are taking the nation by storm and don’t seem to be showing any sign of slowing down.
Now, I’m all for taking pictures. I love my collection of spontaneous photographs capturing holidays, events and gatherings. If anything I use my Instagram as a photographic diary, which I and my friends can flick through when feeling sad or nostalgic for…yesterday. Who wouldn’t want to be reminded of all the fun they’ve had? But a selfie? A photo just of yourself, posing? Given the somewhat catastrophic hair days, drunken antics and wild times I’ve had, I’m not all that sure I want to be reminded of what I looked like at various points through the year (and by wild times I mean watching the entire Sex And The City box set in one evening. Yes, wild).
My concern about taking that ‘cheeky selfie’ now and again, is when now and again becomes daily and daily becomes hourly. The confidence-boosting potential and at the same time confidence-shattering nature of social networks, lies in the facility for others to like the content you’re posting. In terms of your selfie, lots of likes are nice, but it’s really dangerous when you begin to use said number of likes to quantify and boost your self- confidence. Similarly, a lack of likes can easily be perceived as representing wavering appreciation and dwindling social acceptance. Suddenly I’m a loser – all decided by one image, taken in a few seconds. Surely not.
It’s also interesting to think about a selfie as a means of representing yourself, showing yourself to the world in the way(s) you want to be seen. You’re in control of the image, after all. But remember, this control only lasts until you press the upload button. For those that spend hours cropping, editing and choosing the perfect filter (blemish-colouring, teeth-whitening and warmth-encouraging), what part of that original selfie is left? Is this the way you see yourself or just the way you’d like people to see you? I’ll put money on the latter, which again shows the increasing pressure on us all to look our best all the time.
So here’s the truth. The number of likes on your latest selfie most definitely does not represent the level at which you are liked; and the trend of taking likes literally is really unfortunate.
Memories are important. It would be naïve of us all to ignore today’s technological advances and not make use of our photo capturing and sharing facilities. Now unlike ever before we are able to capture everything we see and share it with those we love, whether they be sitting next to us on our phone screens or on the other side of the world through their computer screens. If one of those memories is a selfie of you in front of The Statue of Liberty or outside a London bar with the drunken friends whose names escape you, so be it!
But selfies should not be used for self-evaluation. Never should it be down to anyone but yourself to determine how you feel about you. We all have our quirks and differences, our talents and our own personal little niggles; but we are all rather brilliant, individual and unique and have been that way since before the selfie was born!