The idea of the selfie is something I have never completely understood. Do I do it? Does it make me look vain or conceited? The other day, I was looking through my phone, and was amazed at the amount of selfies I have taken over the years. I am not sure what the purpose of these selfies were, but I seem to have taken countless. Not only did I notice the numerous selfies of myself, but of my little cousin as well. This is a picture of his first selfie taken on my phone. He was two years old at the time, and he had already figured out how to take pictures, which is pretty amazing for a two year old. I do not remember him doing this, but he ended up taking seventeen photos and two videos of himself. Over the past three years, I have spent a lot of time with my sweet little cousin.Almost every time I see him, he asks if he can play with my phone. In this particular photo, he was attempting to multi task. He was taking photos of himself while eating a powdered donut. He documented the entire progression of his donut eating experience, including a mixture of photos and videos. I am not sure that he knew what a SELFIE was at the time, but he definitely succeeded in taking several. As I scrolled through my phone, I found several selfies of him since this day, and it was very interesting to see how he his selfies changed over the years. In this photo, he was exploring the camera and how to work the phone. In the selfies below, he began to pose and explore different forms of selfies.
In this photo to the left, I am the one taking the photo. Even though I took the picture, it was his idea. He said to me, “Shayla, let’s take a selfie and send it to my mom.” This tells me that he knows what a selfie is, and he knows that we should smile when taking a photo. Even at four years old, he knew all of these things. This moment really caused me to think deeper about what a selfie is, and why it is such a big thing in today’s society. When I scroll through my facebook and my Instagram, it is filled with selfies. Why is this? Why do we care how many likes we get, or what we look like in a picture? Why does it have such a huge affect on us? Why do we feel the need to add filters and create unrealistic versions of ourself online?
I find this picture to left particularly interesting. Not only has he figured out how to take a selfie, but he has also figured out how to use filters on snap chat, which is basically an entire app dedicated to communication through selfies. Not only that, but he knows about the duck face! He is five years old in this photo, and is using the duck face. The fact that children this young know about this just demonstrates how engrained it is in society. I have never really understood all the hype behind the duck face, but it is definitely a very popular pose. This idea around selfies has prompted me to look into what they are, what they mean, and why they happen. In my opinion, people use selfies as a way to raise self-esteem. They can take an ordinary photo, and edit in a way that makes them look any way they want. I am not saying that I am not guilty of falling into the ‘selfie trap.’ It definitely is a great feeling when people like my photo and comment kind things, but I am not sure why it makes me feel so good.
Ann Steele’s article ‘What do #Selfies Say About The Psychology Of You?’ says that ‘social media has become a portal through which ordinary people could accomplish the extraordinary with minimal amounts of effort.’ I think that there is a lot of truth to this statement. By adding a filter and using editing tools, people can create a brand new photo with the simple touch of a button. We can get that ‘movie star look’ with minimal effort, and that is very appealing to many. The article also says that to understand selfies, people need to understand the motivations behind these pictures, along with the reasons why some of them tend to go viral and others don’t. We usually have reasons for doing what we do, and even though those motivations are not always clear, they are there nonetheless. We might be taking the selfie to boost our self-esteem, to make others known of an accomplishment or of something that we did, to bring attention to different aspects of our life, or to simply to make ourselves feel good. I don’t always pay attention to the motivation behind my selfies, but as I scrolled through some of the selfies I have taken, I thought of what that underlying motivation might have been. Here is an example:
I used to work at a museum, and in this specific day, I was particularly bored. In order to entertain myself, I walked around and took selfies of myself at all the displays. In this photo, I put on the conductors hat and pretended to drive the train replica. I did this throughout the day, and snap chatted the experience. I am not sure why, and I really don’t know the reason behind my photos. In this case, I would say the motivation was boredom. It definitely was not an attempt to make myself look flattering or to raise my self-esteem, because I look ridiculous in ninety percent of the selfies I took. Lucy Doyle’s article ‘The Good, the Bad, and the Downright Irritating’ puts the motivation behind selfies into three categories: self-absorption, art, and a social connection. After looking through a variety of selfies, I think that there is a lot of truth to this. In addition, I do see it having educational purposes. An example of this is in our class when we wrote down answers on a piece of paper, took a selfie, and posted in a padlet. I think that it is very important to teach students how to use selfies in a positive way. To do this, we need to help students develop a positive self-esteem, and to realize their self worth.
This article also discusses the idea of ‘selfie safety.’ It says that there has been several worrying reports of children taking inappropriate selfies that then end up in the wrongs hands, and how this leads to a panic around the subject of selfies and children. I think that this really ties into the idea of digital citizenship. Having a positive online presence, and engaging in a positive way online is very important. A lot of times, selfies are viewed as a bad thing, but I think that if used the right way, they could be used for positive. As long as we teach students to use them effectively, they can be yet another learning tool in the classroom.