The Rise of Selfies In Popular Culture. Selfie or Selfies is a phenomenon which have become a major component of our culture, in a world-wide manner, by being the “self-portrait of the digital age”. As far back as we can reach into our past, we can see that people on earth have always found a way to document themselves, their accomplishments and their routines; this desire for saving autobiographical information about ourselves and our loved ones seems to be very natural and intuitive.
The argument could be made: the selfie could be the logical evolution of this process, made so by the progress of the tools at our disposal; first it was paint made out of fruit, now it’s digital gadgets of all sorts … most notably the iPhone 4 which was one of the few first mobile phones to introduce a front-facing camera (the most popular one at that), and with it the evolution of the selfie. Whatever we made of this, the rise of selfies in popular culture is deeply entrenched in all cultures.
I say the “evolution of the selfie” because it wasn’t born just recently; the selfie in fact predates the use of the term itself. The first selfie in history belongs to Robert Cornelius who was an American pioneer in photography. In 1938 he produced a daguerreotype of himself, which also happens to be one of the first photographs of a person ever taken. The process of taking a photo back then was very slow, but as technology kept improving, the popularity of the selfie kept rising. In the 1900s, photographic self-portraits became common practice with the debut of the Kodak Brownie box camera. In the 70s there was a selfies’ boom with the introduction of instant cameras; it was the dawn of a new means of self-expression and self-exploration. This phenomenon, of course, made its natural transition to the digital camera. Then, in 2000, self-taken pictures were common in MySpace. But it was finally in 2004 that pictures with the hashtag “selfie” started to appear on Flickr. The rest, as they say, is history. Improvements on mobile phone design, most notably the iPhone 4 and its front-facing camera, led to the resurgence and uproar of selfies and with it the birth of apps such as Instagram and Snapchat in the early 2010s which made the process even more sophisticated, appealing, and instantaneous. Now, we have a wide array of platforms—from Twitter, to Facebook, to WhatsApp’s, to Worbuzz new status feature–, each with its own tools for tinkering with your selfies.
As you may have noticed, there’s a correlation between the popularity of selfies and the advances of technology that have allowed the process of photo taking to be instant. The wonderful appeal of selfies is that they are easy to create, to tweak and to share. You’re in control of your own image and of how you want to share yourself to the world. Not only that, the selfie hasn’t lost its autobiographical characteristic; it’s not only about sharing, it’s also about documenting. Your Instagram profile is your own personal photographic journal; you can go through it and remember what you looked like years ago, what you were doing, how you were doing it, and how much you have changed.
Selfies, above all, give you control over your self-expression, you don’t need to have anyone to take a picture of you; you don’t have to trust anyone else to make you look good, you decide how to frame yourself and you can retake as many pictures as you wish until you find what works for you. Additionally, you have many tools to make it even better. It’s an expression of self-love, and it’s also an opportunity; an opportunity you give to the people around you to appreciate you by sharing yourself.
There’s no denying the importance and relevance of the selfie as a cultural trait, a means of self-expression and progress, and an expression of our joy of living.
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