Selfies: they’re not just for teens anymore

The popularity of the digital self-portrait is skyrocketing

By Kelly Hockenberry, Columnist, The Times 

UTKellyRev2Column#selfie sunday

This is a hugely popular hashtag (LIKE 4 MILLION POSTS)!  Did you know?

(Unsure of the lingo? find a teenager to explain)

What does the explosion in popularity of the selfie really mean to society?  Is it the root of all evil (as some choose to believe) or a new way to attempt to control the techie world we live in?

Kelly1I have a degree in Sociology, so, this stuff fascinates me.  I think it is interesting that the word “selfie” was the Oxford Dictionary “word of 2013” and is 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.”

Everyone from Kim Kardashian (Queen of the infamous Duck Face) to Meryl Streep and Hilary Clinton to THE POPE are doing it!




EyeTrackShop is a market research company that utilizes online eye tracking with traditional questionnaires.  They did a study where they compared the visual statistics for Twitter, Facebook and MySpace and found that the Timeline cover photos on Facebook are noticed first. People spend the most time looking at Profile pictures and our own perceived attractiveness rises according to the amount of “likes” one’s Profile receives.

Text is becoming increasingly irrelevant.  Think about the popularity of Snap Chat amongst teens.  They spend hours “conversing” through images (often selfies) with very limited words.  In fact, the picture is the mode of transmitting the language.

Kelly3Not surprisingly, women tend to take selfies more than men.  Our fixation on body image and self-worth as it relates to the larger population creates a natural attraction to such a concept.  Obviously, this dynamic can have negative consequences if our photographs are not well received by our peers.

Is there ANY redeeming value to the selfie?  Some psychologists argue that having control over the image we put out into the world can be empowering.  We are a visual society and these pictures invoke dialogue and engagement.

I find selfies anxiety provoking.  In fact, any selfie that I do take (usually to make fun of myself) is often done in profile.  And, I won’t lie…filters are my friend.  A little soft lighting never hurt anybody.  Does this have deep seeded psychological meaning?  Am I unsatisfied with my own reflection and identity?  Sometimes, I guess.  But, nothing that “Valencia” on Instagram can’t fix.

What do YOU think of the selfie?  Send me one and comment below!


   Send article as PDF   

Share this post:

Related Posts

Leave a Comment