Of the many trends that have gained prominence this year, perhaps the ‘selfie’ has gained the most headlines. It would seem that capturing ourselves with the camera lens has never proved more attractive.
This year it earned its place as the Oxford English Dictionary’s 2013 Word of the Year. With the rise of the smartphone, the selfie has taken over the world!
At the memorial for Nelson Mandela, President Obama, our Prime Minister and the Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt huddled together for a selfie. Roberto Schmidt, the photographer who captured three world leaders in such intimacy, never believed that the world’s press would create such furore.
“I knew I had an interesting moment just because we usually don’t see heads of state in a very human light, everything is very staged. And I knew it was a picture worth putting on the wire and that it would get some play but I never thought it would grow into this buzz.”
It must be pointed out that this was a memorial service and not a funeral and as such was not a solemn occasion rather a celebration with dancing and a festive atmosphere hence the relaxed nature of our three politicians.
Other prominent selfies have included astronaut Steve Robinson who took a photo of himself repairing the Space Shuttle Discovery and no surprise that shrinking violets such as Justin Bieber, Madonna and Lady Gaga are also eager to self!
But what is it with this rise in narcissism? We have all done it but why the need to capture oneself at a particular place and then, of course, sharing it across social media? Are we expecting friends and family to be in raptures over what we are eating, eager to know who we are with, and where we are? Is our vanity gratified enough with any social validation? Yet they are a wonderful way in which to document our lives. And, as the saying goes, a picture can speak a thousand words.
Recent Instagram stats show that a whopping 23 million photos have been uploaded with the hashtag #selfie, which is eclipsed when a search for the hashtag #me is undertaken, wait for it – 51 million images!!
It might be worth remembering the next time we flip the camera, with our smartphone at arm’s length that the word selfie is nestled comfortably in the dictionary next to the word ‘selfish’!
However, masters such as Rembrandt, Raphael and Van Gogh all painted themselves, so perhaps the selfie will be in time revered as much as the self-portrait.
Right, I’m off to strike a pose!