Friday, February 7, 2014

The Selfie Generation

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I saw this video a few weeks ago and it got me thinking about selfies in a whole new light. For me, selfies have never even been something to really think about. Such a simple concept that really doesn't mean anything. However, this really opened my eyes and I think every middle and high school should do something like this for their student body. Instead of criticizing people for taking "selfies", we should realize that they shared that photo for a reason. Maybe at that moment they felt beautiful, or they were just having fun. Why should we tease people for this or try to make them feel "stupid" for it? Why don't we celebrate the fact that they felt confident instead? Or appreciate the fact like the felt like sharing a particular moment with us? For whatever reason, this video sparked like a week long debate in my head, about whether selfies are a positive thing, or a negative thing. 

"Selfies". We've all seen them and everybody has their opinion about them. If  you've actually never heard of a selfie, you better get on board because the word has officially been added to the Oxford English Dictionary and defined as "a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website". For whatever reason, society has taken something as small as self-taken photos and turned the topic into quite the controversy. 

On one side, we have the people who take and appreciate selfies. I think it's safe to say that the majority of people I know take photos of themselves from time to time. Young and old, men and women, people of all races, social circles, and backgrounds. Those who don't take selfies often ask, "Why? What's the point?" So I've brainstormed a few reasons why people enjoy taking selfies...

1. Most of us are not photographed regularly, if ever. So if we don't take these pictures of ourselves on the days we're feeling cute, having fun being goofing off with friends, or just out exploring...then these moments will never be documented. Some people prefer it that way. However, I know for a fact that if I wasn't constantly taking photos of my friends and I out having fun, that the collection of captured moments that I cherish would literally not exist. Which is heart breaking to me! 

2. Odds are, you've never looked better in a photo before! Some people just aren't photogenic and taking a selfie gives these people a chance to be in control of everything! They can control the lighting, the angle, the editing, and they can take as many photos as they want until they get the "perfect" one. While I don't promote editing yourself to "perfection" or trying to hide your flaws for a photo, I do promote feeling beautiful and feeling confident. If taking the "perfect" selfie makes somebody feel confident then I'm all for it. *Note: In the above video you can see how the woman had the female students capture their flaws in their selfies and while some were extremely hesitant, they were all blown away by the positive feedback and it really boosted their confidence.

3. The "sharing". In a nutshell, a lot of people (especially young girls) take selfies because they crave that positive feedback from their peers on social media, they need it in order to feel pretty. It's clear that people are more apt to pay another person a nice compliment on their new facebook photo than they are to walk up to them at school and say, "You're so gorgeous!" So just like the people who don't get photographed often, maybe some people take selfies because they don't get complimented otherwise. They don't have people who come up to them and compliment them. However, each time they post a selfie, they get a plethora of "likes" and comments and in turn, their confidence gets boosted and they start focusing on their beauty instead of their flaws, if even for just a moment. 

Those are just a few of the reasons that I came up with on why people would take selfies and I kind of expanded off of those reasons to explain the "pros" of selfies. Sorry if I'm a bit repetitive, trying to stay awake on my "Monday". So I guess now I have to think about the "cons". For every person who enjoys posting a harmless selfie, there are at least two who are constantly complaining about this "new" trend. Here are some of the reasons people have given me on why they don't like selfies, and my two cents...

1. Vanity. Almost everybody who is against this trend claims that people who take selfies are vain. Which lead me to a little experiment. I have been on facebook for over 6 years and just now decided to look over my 68 (phew that's a lot!) profile pictures that I've had over the years. A whopping 16 are photos that I took myself that are of me and at least one other person (friends, boyfriend, parent, etc), and 4 are solid, textbook "selfies" of just myself. I don't consider myself a vain person at all, so this lead me to dig a little deeper on facebook and look through photos that other people post. Overall, women are the ones who I've found to dominate the selfie world. And I don't think this is because women are more vain, I don't think that's the reason at all. I think it's because *drum roll please because we've all heard it before* the pressure that society has put on women. I'm not saying that society hasn't put pressure on men, because we definitely have. I'm just saying that the pressure on women has been largely on our appearance so often women feel like they have something to prove. That being said, we need to differentiate vanity and confidence. When I upload a picture of myself, no matter who took it, it's because I feel put together and I feel like I look halfway decent for once. I'm not posting the selfie because I'm like, "Damn I'm fine", it's because I feel good about myself. Whether that's a result of a new hair cut or color, new outfit, etc. Feeling good about oneself and being vain are two very different things. Also, women are just more likely to say, "Oooh picture time!" or "Let's take a picture!" while hanging out with their friends. This is nothing new my friends, women have been doing this long before 2013. We just tend to be more sentimental.

2. Sexual objectification of women. Now this is something I can understand. I am very against the exploitation of women, whether it's done through the adult film industry, Playboy, or by women themselves. However, a selfie doesn't automatically mean that the person who took it is naked or acting in a seductive manner and exploiting themselves. The people who are taking risky photos of themselves and sharing them are on a whole different level, and honestly, giving the innocent selfie a bad name! But that's for a whole different conversation.

In my opinion, it's all about why and what. Why are you taking and sharing photos of yourself and what are you hoping to gain (if anything)? With that in mind, I think we all need to keep some things in mind while sharing anything on social media, especially photos. Before you share photos of yourself, ask yourself if this is something you want literally the entire world to have access to and be able to see. You might think, "Well my facebook is private, only my friends can see". Noooo, that's not how it works. All it takes is for one of your friends to share that picture as well, or to copy and paste it and send it out. Once you put something online, anybody can see it. And for all you know, it could be out there forever. Then, ask yourself if what you're posting could hurt somebody or offend someone. I'm not the type of person to baby everybody. You can't live life letting everybody else's feelings control what you do or by only doing things to please others, but that doesn't mean you can't be considerate and at least try to avoid hurting others. Keep things that could be offensive private or within' a small group of friends that you know won't be hurt or made uncomfortable. Take it from me, nothing is worth posting that will genuinely hurt somebody. The last thing I always ask myself is the why. Am I posting this because I'm proud of it? Because I hope to inspire others? If yes, then post away. Like I mentioned above, there's nothing wrong with posting photos of yourself to gain confidence through compliments. However, this shouldn't be the driving force for why you post photos. You should post things because they already make you feel good, not in hopes that other people will make you feel that way. Your opinion of yourself is truly the only one that matters. 
So as long as you're being responsible and considerate with the things you share online, be it a post or a selfie, upload away! Here, enjoy this shameless selfie of my sister and I enjoying Taco Bell. A simple, fun, silly moment that I  enjoyed with her that I probably would have forgotten by now if it wasn't for us deciding to take a picture. 


  1. Tues, I love you, I enjoy reading what you write, and thanks for sharing your memory with your sister. :) I wish I had more of those with my siblings.

    1. Aw thank you love!
      Hey it's never too late to make those memories!




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