In defence of the self(ie)
Much as the selfie phenomenon is a victim of derision, does anyone not indulge in this moment of self-actualisation?
BARRACK Obama, David Cameron and Helle Thorning Schmidt were unsparingly panned for taking a selfie at Nelson Mandela’s memorial. Miley Cyrus’ various contorted versions of herself, entertaining though they may be, are constantly derided.
Yet, Pope Francis – Time’s Person of the Year 2013 – is heralded as a septuagenarian superstar when he is benignly pictured in a selfie with a group of young Italians.
Much as the selfie phenomenon is a victim of derision, does anyone not indulge in this moment of selfactualisation?
Apart from famous people’s selfies, social media is awash with a stream of “look-at-me” photographs, often masquerading as blog posts, personal opinions or insights into the world at large.
The word “selfie”has not only been named the 2013 Word of the Year, but has also defiantly forced its way into the “acceptable” lexicon. Since last year, its online use is up by 17,000%. The venerable oxford dictionaries.
com defines selfie as “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically taken with a smartphone or webcam, and uploaded to social media”. Disconcertingly, though, it comes with a sanctimonious example,: “Occasional selfies are acceptable, but posting a new picture of yourself every day isn’t necessary.”
Although many shamelessly join in the act of selfie-ing, some still vociferously scorn this conduct.
We condone someone standing at a podium (self-created or otherwise) while bragging ad nauseam about themselves and their achievements, yet we take offence at a selfie – which is only a visual depiction of singing one’s praises.
But it’s just a form of narcissism, isn’t it? Not necessarily bad, but just another symbol of high selfesteem? Something that we are repeatedly told to load up on in order to succeed at everything.
Other words spring to mind, like confidence, courage and conviction. As well as qualities such as being bold, brave and assertive.
All these words we could use to describe a selfie.
I must confess, I quite like the selfie.
I had indulged in it myself more than a few times, until I read in a trend style-o-meter that selfietaking over-40s are on the way down.
Nevertheless, I think of the selfie as just another form of self-expression that we should not censure.
Strange as it may seem, to me, a selfie sometimes succinctly cap- tures a particularly meaningful moment in a person’s life.
When observed closely, a selfie offers significant insight into that person’s happy moments.
Selfies unwittingly reveal a lot more, too, than the originator intends.
While trawling through iphoto, picking new pictures to frame, I chanced upon a series of selfies with my other half.
Unintentionally, we had almost perfected the pose: beaming smiles at the ready, double chins well concealed and outfits almost colour-coordinated.
Not a single long arm, holding the phone or camera, was in sight.
However, I found the most arresting part of our pictures was the background.
While we took up less than half the frame, the backdrops were a stunning array of places that we had travelled to.
That, more than the grinning us, makes our selfies special.
The old walls of Istanbul, the curve of the Colosseum, the misty dusk at the end of a Nepal trek, the proud dhow ambling along the Doha coast.
More than our looks, our series of self-portraits truly depict a distinct time and place.
For us. capturing ourselves in front of these magnificent views, our selfies defined the most memorable occasions.
I picked out 16 snaps, then had them framed in double glass.
The frame is large and heavy, so it currently sits on the floor, propped against the wall.
What is worth noting is people’s reactions to this blatant display of admittedly self-indulgent selfies.
Some loved it, remarking on our smiles and my varying hairstyles.
Yet others have looked askance, unable to decide if they like it or not.
Most probably, unsure of how to put it politely that they hate it. Some thought it most strange, and so unlike us.
Perhaps selfies are a private gratification, even when they are out in the public realm.
The images may invite compliments and comments, but only those who take their own will be able to appreciate the essence of their life’s vignettes.
In this era of instant gratification, a well-staged selfie offers plenty of joy to the taker.
At their best, these pictures encapsulate confident, proud, private moments.
It is not a selfish, narcisstic act. Rather, taking the selfie captures forever a moment of yourself. A part of yourself to reflect upon later if you wish.
However, the selfie is just one way of appreciating ourselves.
Someone else can easily take a picture of you.
But, in defence of the selfie, when did it become a crime to take a picture of yourself?
In 2014, take some time for yourself, to be yourself.
Happy New Year, everyone.
Appropriate behaviour?: These leaders of state were criticised by many for taking a selfie during the memorial service of South african former president nelson mandela in Johannesburg. — aFP
Oxford dictionary has named ‘selfie’ the new word of the year 2013. — aFP