Since we now can take and post instant pictures of ourselves online, have we become more self-preoccupied?
Not necessarily, according to Grant Barrett, co-host of “A Way with Words” on KPBS radio. In an interview last December, he identified selfie as one of 2013’s new words. People have always been self-absorbed, according to Barrett. Now it’s just more evident.
Who posts the most selfies and where? Nearly half of all selfies are posted on Facebook and the median age of self-snapping posters is 23. More women college students post selfies than men. The city with the most selfies on Instagram is Makati, Philippines and city with the second-most is New York.
It’s not at all surprising that younger people lead the photos-of-me pack. They use social media more, they’re having fun, they’re showing off to one another for sex or romance or just because. And let’s face it, no pun intended, they have better-looking faces and bodies to show off! Most people under 25 look good in burlap sacks in the middle of the Mojave Desert.
Nor is it surprising that those whose work depends on physical appearance post more photos of themselves. Actors, models, physical fitness buffs have always loomed large on billboards, magazine pages, paparazzi viewfinders. I’m getting used to seeing photos of my yoga teachers demonstrating poses or new forms of yoga, such as shavasana in a trapeze or down dogging on a paddleboard.
I wonder if there is any correlation between age and the size/closeness of ourselves in our selfies? The older we get, the less inclined we are to stick our wrinkled noses on the lens or open the aperture to bare midriffs. But we can still look reasonably okay as far away as our arms will take us standing near the oldest tree in the world, or even better, the oldest person.
To me, the fun part of selfies is sharing what we are doing, alone or with others. Exploring a new restaurant, city or country. Reuniting with family or old friends. Celebrating birthdays and other special days. Taking in a sunset, welcoming a new dog or cat.
Recently I knew three couples who don’t know each other who were in Paris at the same time. Sure enough, there they all were on Facebook, smiling and smooching in selfie close ups, the Eifel Tower rising from their heads.
I have other FB friends who seldom, if ever, post selfies, preferring jokes, hi-tech advice, cat and dog videos, political opinions, interesting articles and creative work. These are all good too, and maybe the fact that they don’t have to post selfies is a good thing. They care more about the life of the mind than they do outward appearances. Their ideas are more apt to help the world than one more shot of us smelling flowers.
Or are they? Maybe our selfies are a way of reminding ourselves and others that we are here, every day. Every moment of every day, no matter how small.
Quick! I see a photo op. Good light, the right angle … click!