Articles

Don’t Turn Your Back on Selfies

by Alicia Eler on April 14, 2014

Random screengrab of Selfeed.com, the live feed of all #selfies on Instagram.

Screengrab of selfeed.com, a live feed of all the #selfies on Instagram

LOS ANGELES — A selfie says a thousand words, especially when it’s taken with a longtime friend. We’ve all taken selfies to commemorate something together; it’s as if the moment doesn’t exist if we didn’t take that photo. Some selfie situations are more intense than others, however.

“I knew it was going to be the last time I ever [saw] him,” said Michael Mandell about a selfie that he took with his friend Tyler Hadley, after Tyler killed his own parents. This commemorative selfie reminds Michael of the friendship they used to have; now Tyler is serving two life sentences without parole. “He’s my longtime childhood friend, and that’s all I’m ever gonna see him as,” explains Michael to an aggressive Fox News reporter who interrogates him on why he’d want to remember his friend.

In Presidential selfie news, although Obama is known for his selfie at Nelson Mandela’s funeral, White House officials may soon prevent the public from taking selfies with him. This came about after the Red Sox’s David Ortiz shot a selfie with Obama, which seemed innocuous at first but was soon questioned as a possible endorsement deal with mobile provider Samsung. Ortiz denies it, calling his selfie a spontaneous action. It’s hard to say what’s truth now after Ellen’s corporate-sponsored Academy Award selfie.

But not every selfie is a possible marketing effort. Some selfies could be the result of body dysmorphic disorder and a compulsive need for validation through social media. There are ways to take healthy selfies — those that “trigger honest reflection,” as Pamela Rutledge notes in Psychology Today. Her top two tips are: “Keep selfies in perspective by making them less posed; embrace playfulness,” and “Use selfies to explore different looks, interests, and outfits, but not different duck faces.”

What if your thing is looking at other peoples’ selfies instead of your own?  Finally someone has come up with Selfeed, which runs realtime updates of the #selfie hashtag on Instagram. And to think I wasted time bookmarking #selfie search on Webstagram! If you’d rather block the hashtag #selfie from your Twitter feed all together, you can go ahead and create a mute filter on Tweetbot for Mac. If you’re not sure how to do that, Jared Smith can help you.

Interestingly, the selfie has now surpassed the smartphone. Digital agency iStrategyLabs has released a new two-way mirror called S.E.L.F.I.E., or “The Self Enhancing Live Feed Image Engine,” which takes photos of you from the other side of the mirror and posts them to Twitter. Bonus points for the selfie-obsessed: their promo video uses a few seconds from the Chainsmokers’ “#SELFIE” song.

How will selfies affect the next generation? Is baby North West experiencing a new variation of the Lacanian mirror stage through a smartphone selfie with Kim, Kanye’s iPad portrait of the selfie taking, and someone else taking a photo of this whole scene?! It’s a meta-baby-selfie!

Here are our mature smart selfie shooters of the week, hailing from Finland, England, the US, and the bathroom.

Eero Yli-Vakkuri (from Ore.e Refineries) with Patu (The Horse)

Horsefie TK TK

Eero and Patu’s horselfie

Occupation: Artist / retired riding horse
Location: Helsinki / Kylmälänkylä, Finland

“I got my first camera phone 2005, and I took a lot of selfies around that time. Every time there was a big event, like a museum opening or performance, I took selfies, but I didn’t take them publicly. I took them discreetly backstage, hidden from others. These photos served as evidence that I had done something worthwhile. They documented milestones in my life. After I got kids I haven’t taken many selfies; I document my kids doing stuff instead. Perhaps these are generational selfies.

“I took this horselfie with Patu because I felt so proud working with him, and I wanted to impress my friend Jesse. I’ve only started to work with horses this year. With this picture I’m trying to convince myself that I can handle horses. I took Patu for a walk in the woods in an effort to learn how to handle him in rough terrain. Taking a horselfie is tricky as the horse can move unpredictably. I don’t think he minds being photographed — I showed the photo to him, but he didn’t show any interest in it.”

Faye Scott-Farrington

Snappee   selfie by Faye Scott-Farrington

Snappee selfie by Faye Scott-Farrington

Occupation: Artist
Location: Manchester, England

“I found a free app called Snappee, which I think is Japanese. Most of the images on there are Japanese girls being cute with layered up ‘stickers’ of hearts, flowers, chibi faces, fashion phrases. They are adorable.

“I’ve used the same app, and a couple of others on my iPhone, to render satirical selfies. I was interested in the whole selfie narcissism wave and how some people spend so long on making themselves look actually not very much like their everyday self.

“I began with trying to do the same, pouting (duck face), taking from a high viewpoint to hide a multitude of chins, and capturing myself just as I’ve finished doing my admittedly limited beauty routine.

“I am a big user of Twitter and Instagram and have developed an Internet persona, which is a very concentrated version of the outernet me, so I’ve tried to capture this too in my excessive use of stickers and filters.”

Fred Truck

Fred Truck's mirror panorama selfies

Fred Truck’s bathroom mirror panorama selfies

Occupation: Man in a bathroom 
Location: Not Craigslist Mirrors

“We have a lot of mirrors in our house. I’ve used them in other pictures, but not in a selfie. I wanted to place myself in a panorama as I took the picture. I took quite a few, and then combined the 4 best in the 4-strip format.”

Anna Russett

Occupation: Artist
Location: Chicago

“This selfie is my most-liked selfie to date and happened to be taken on the same day that I hit 100,000 followers on Instagram (!!!!!!); I’ve always been told not to take selfies with the front-facing camera on my iPhone, since the quality is not as nice as the front, but #yolo. Just so happens that this slightly pixelated image is my most-liked selfie at over 10,000 likes right now, lol (and who gets to dictate selfie rules anyway?!). I really liked my lipstick that day.

“I try to take selfies during different #feels, like when I’m crying or feeling sexxxy or when I’m embarrassed. Different platforms trigger different ways to communicate myself[ie]. Sometimes I enjoy the vulnerability that posting to Instagram produces, but other times my selfies reside comfortably within the safety of a Snapchat story. I think it’s important to acknowledge the days you feel like a million bucks as well as when you feel like a face- down penny — and I do that through selfies! I’m a #selfie gURL in a #selfie wwworld.”

Chris Moffett

Chris Moffett's NYC subway selfie

Chris Moffett’s NYC subway selfie

Occupation: Artist and philosopher of education
Location: New York

“Waiting for the L train at 2 am. I’m looking up at the platform camera while shooting the split-screen monitor I’m showing up on over my shoulder with my phone. The glass protecting the monitor reflected my hand as well as the opposite-side platform. Then the train came.”

*   *   *

Email Hyperallergic your selfie at selfies [at] hyperallergic.com, along with a brief explanation of why you shot it and what it means to you.

  • Subscribe to the Hyperallergic newsletter!

Hyperallergic welcomes comments and a lively discussion, but comments are moderated after being posted. For more details please read our comment policy.

Previous post:

Next post: