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The “selfie” fad

Gabriela Leskur | Tuesday, November 19, 2013

When I think of the word “selfie,” I think of my ex chuckling at a Snapchat of his friend and occasionally, his friend’s poop. I don’t think of the Oxford English Dictionary. Or at least, I didn’t before this afternoon.
On Tuesday, the Oxford English Dictionary unveiled its word of the year: “selfie.”
If you’re unsure what this “selfie” is and don’t have a grasp on Google yet, the Oxford English Dictionary defines it as “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.” This got me thinking: Why is the selfie worth honoring?
A selfie is a product of our reliance on technology. Sure, there is more to technology than just narcissism. Technology makes our lives a lot easier. Without a microwave, I’d have to make mac and cheese on a stove. Technology allows for a lot of communal good; it’s not all about the individual. With technology comes the ability to address world hunger, poverty and renewable energy, for example.
However, in a less humanitarian sense, a lot of technology reinforces the “it’s all about me” mentality. The technological age we live in might as well be the narcissistic age.
Facebook is all about displaying your questionable splendor, from awkward junior high to the present day. Twitter gets your irrelevant two cents on Kim Kardashian’s baby – “North West? #noway #embarrassing #amiright? #kimye” – reposted onto the national news. Instagram filters your photo until you go from looking like a five to an impressive nine out of 10. These wonderful platforms all foster a wide array of selfies.
Nothing beats the classic mirror shot, the epitome of the selfie: one puts on one’s hottest ensemble, stands in front of the mirror with a sexy pout, and, with their cell phone case appropriately bedazzled, snaps their reflection before posting it to Instagram.
As a society, we have all become amateur photographers with cell phone cameras. What makes us different from actual photographers is the content and creation of these photos. Our content tends to be meaningless, and our creation e subpar. A perfect example is the first time the word “selfie” was used in an Australian chat room in 2002: “Um, drunk at a mate’s 21st, I tripped over and landed lip first (with front teeth coming a very close second) on a set of steps. I had a hole about 1 cm long right through my bottom lip. And sorry about the focus, it was a selfie.”
As seen by this embarrassing origin, all a selfie does is capture a moment that would have been happily forgotten, and not shared with 1,000 friends on Facebook. Instead of sharing those gems of self-discovery, maybe we should just keep those selfies to ourselves.

Contact Gabriela Leskur at      
gleskur@nd.edu
    The views expressed in the Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.