I spend a lot of time thinking about what constitutes a selfie. Because while I find the rules of selfie-taking to be self-evident and quite obvious, social media has demonstrated that actually there is no rhyme or reason or standard to the selfie, and this anarchy is enraging.
I can’t say for sure when the term selfie came into my vernacular, but some cursory Internet research (Wikipedia) marks a resurgence of self-portraiture around 2010, when the front-facing iPhone camera skipped into town. (I did not get an iPhone until November 2012, so I’m sure my selfies looked positively amateurish.)
Just last month, “selfie” charmed its way into the Oxford Dictionaries Online’s quarterly update. It’s a dubious honour; along with terms like “phablet,” “twerk,” and “emoji,” “selfie” is pretty much storming the castle to herald the end of the English language before our very eyes.
Be that as it may, I think dictionaries are pretty awesome because they tell us what words mean. And Oxford Dictionaries Online defined “selfie” as “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.”
Ok. I want to focus on one particular part of that definition. A photograph that one has taken of oneself. By those standards, this is a selfie:
(“Gangsta” shot. Just trying to stay warm at a hockey rink. Sorry.)
This is not a selfie:
(Taken on Canada Day a few years ago. Not sorry.)
Both of these pictures are of myself, but only one picture was taken by myself. Are we agreed that a selfie means a photo that you have taken with one of your own hands/arms? We are?
Well then, can you please explain it to social media?
Last week, Kim Kardashian made her first reappearances on social media, in a Keek video shot by Scott Disick of some stellar car-singing, and a blurry, so-called selfie taken during the same car ride. A lot of people on the Interweb have complained about the pic’s poor quality.
My beef, however, is more fundamental: This is not a selfie!
Kim Kardashian did not take that picture. She’s looking into the camera of the phone that’s in the picture (which apparently is the new iPhone 5S, 2 days before the official announcement of the new iPhones — this has Kanye written all over it). Aaaaanyway, that picture could not have been taken by her. Neither could most of these so-called celebrity selfies (some of these are nearly naked pics, so not entirely safe for work).
Am I a fool for thinking that a selfie is a self-taken portrait? Do people consider any pictures of themselves to be selfies?
Meanwhile, back at the office…
(Selfie. Taken at work. Just now.)