Melting Pot

On “Selfies”

Oh, selfies… where would social media be without them, right?

Let us discuss selfies a bit shall we?

Duck face is a no no. I don’t care if you are male or female, five or a hundred – NOBODY looks good with duck face. NOBODY. I actually intentionally tried to do duck face recently for a meme I wanted to make, making fun of/poking at a certain type of selfie and the hash tags used with it that I see a lot, and honest to goodness it was HARD! And once all was said and done yeah I looked stupid as intended but it still just wasn’t quite duck face. I tried but simply could not force myself into this idiotic expression. Apparently doing duck face requires a special dose of stupid that I – thankfully – do not possess. Oh and no you can’t see the meme in question. I haven’t convinced myself to share it publicly yet. I may not have managed duck face (a good thing honestly, in the end) but I am still a bit humiliated by my little creation and am not sure I really want to share it even though it was made in jest/to make a point.

Stop using the bathroom mirror. I get it. It is some sort of unwritten selfie rule that selfies must be taken whilst looking in a mirror. Fine. It is stupid, but fine. I can forgive that, hesitantly but I forgive it just the same. But for the love of all that is good in the world, stop with the bathroom selfies. Ok, ok… I give. Not ALL bathroom selfies are the stuff of nightmares. Some shower curtains do make for awesome backdrops, I admit it. Hell I have bought a few to hang up on tension rods as backdrops for photos. So I see where this appeal lies. But many bathroom selfies are gag inducing monstrosities. If you are going to insist on the bathroom selfie, the least you can do is make sure what is seen behind you is tidy. And please, whatever you do, do NOT take selfies in the shower/tub, or worse sitting on the toilet.  Just… no.

There is a time and place for selfies. For social media and techy gadgets in general. People are addicted to their electronics, and to their selfies. We have all seen the numerous articles – complete with undeniable photos as proof that yes it really did happen – about people being at various events not enjoying them and making memories (or otherwise behaving appropriately for a given situation) but glued to their gadgets and social media. (Funeral selfies are apparently a thing now. Disrespectful and stupid on SO many levels!) Put your phones away once in a while and just enjoy life unplugged. You might be surprised how enjoyable things can be when you really pay attention to them and stop worrying so much about looking good online. And there are some scenarios in which it is just plain rude for you to care more about your online presence than what is happening around you. Grow up.

The selfie stick. One of the top “inventions” that should have never, ever happened. Meant to make taking selfies, especially group shots, easier, they are a safety hazard. Sure in responsible hands they can be fine. But people are rude, stupid, and inconsiderate. People have been hit with selfie sticks by folks not paying attention to their surroundings when deciding to take a picture. People have tried to take and use them on amusement park rides which, if you don’t understand why this is a terribly dangerous thing to do you need some major help. If you really want a picture/group picture that badly that you can’t for whatever reason take yourself, how about you ask someone else to take the picture for you? People used to do this all the time and it worked just fine. Here is how it works – you and your friends want a picture. You spot a friendly face walking by. You approach this person and say “Excuse me sir/ma’am, could you please take a picture of me and my friends?” Chances are they will be happy to, but if not say “ok” and let them go and look for someone else. If you feel the need, ask them to take a couple shots “to make sure there is a good one”. When they are done, you say “Thank you so much, we really appreciate it!” End interaction, you have your picture(s). What is so difficult about this? I have done this numerous times, and have also been the one taking pictures for others numerous times. It is called human interaction. While I admit I am not a huge fan of this, as most people are morons, it is not always bad. You should try it some time.

If you’re going to hash tag it, stick to a handful of appropriate tags. This applies to all photos, really. Don’t use a dozen or more hash tags, or ones that have nothing to do with the content of your image. I know you want your images to be seen but doing this makes you look like an ass. People search a specific hash tag for a reason. Someone searching #bluebutterflies doesn’t want to see your butterfly tattoo. Even if it is blue. Even if it is gorgeous. And they definitely don’t want to see you and your SO sucking face. And we all know when you go overboard on the (not even remotely related to your image) hash tags you are just fishing for likes/followers. You look desperate. Stop it. Just do your thing and tag properly – it might take longer but people with a genuine interest in what you share WILL find you. Patience, grasshopper; patience. We can’t all be Kim Kardashian and have millions of followers and likes in minimal time with minimal effort – reign in your expectations a bit. Believe it or not, in the real world nobody gives a shit how many followers you have. So relax, and let folks find you without trying so hard.

If someone else took the photo, it is NOT a selfie or a self portrait. The whole point of a SELF portrait or a selfie is it is an image of you, created by yourSELF. If someone else takes the picture, they are the photographer and you are the subject. In order to be a self portrait or a selfie, you must create the image yourself, being both the photographer and the subject. As defined by the Oxford English Dictionary:

self-ˈportrait, n.

Etymology:  translating German selbstbildnis , selbstporträt 
 
  A self-made portrait of oneself.

And last but absolutely not least:

Technically speaking, all selfies are self portraits. However, not all self portraits are selfies. It is insulting to call a self portrait a selfie. A self portrait consists of a well composed image shot with an actual camera and usually a tripod and self timer or a remote shutter release. A self portrait is thought out carefully as the photographer would plan and compose any image – it is not just a “snap a hundred times and hope something good comes of it” scenario but a fully planned effort with few snaps of the shutter and pleasing results with minimal fuss. And NEVER duck face. Many self portraits do not even show the subject’s face at all. The goal of a self portrait is a photograph showcasing tasteful, artistic self expression. A selfie, on the other hand, lacks all these things and consists simply of a snapshot usually taken with a phone and as mentioned above looking into the mirror, and there is no thought given the the composition at all. The goal of a selfie is a snapshot in which one looks hot, to try to get as many “likes” as possible. As the person taking the photo is also the subject of the photo, despite the lack of use of photographic knowledge or skill, the selfie is still at the utmost basic level, a self portrait. Perhaps the lowest form of self portrait, but a self portrait nonetheless. Again, all selfies are self portraits, but not all self portraits are selfies.

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