On the 21st of June, people all over the world whipped out their cell phones and gave a big toothy grin in celebration of international #SelfieDay.
No matter how old you are, or whether you’re a social media fundi or not, chances are you’ve taken a selfie. The internet has a love-hate relationship with selfies. On the one hand, everybody posts them. On the other hand, they have a reputation for being a sign of narcissism.
But, as someone who posts the odd selfie, I choose to look on the bright side. Ilan Stavans makes an interesting point in his essay, I Love My Selfie. Stavans, a professor of Latin American culture at Amherst College, believes the selfie can provide insight into our complicated efforts to create (and present) an authentic self. Whether obsessive, futile or even successful, selfies tell us something about being human. One could even go so far as to say, they’re art. Now, my artistic abilities stop at being able to draw a stick man, so this is quite a nice thought! The beautiful thing about art is that it’s open to interpretation. If someone doesn’t like your selfie, there might be 10 people who love it, and if someone doesn’t like it, so what?!
Added to that, computer scientists at the University of California discovered that regularly taking selfies is actually beneficial to our health. Yes, that’s right, apparently frequently taking selfies leads to an increase in body confidence and an overall improvement in mood. I must admit, I was very awkward growing up and often shied away from photographs but as selfies became a global phenomenon over the years, I’ve become more comfortable taking photos of myself. Sometimes on a good hair day I’ll take a selfie and It makes me feel good thinking, ‘this is probably how I look for the rest of the day’’ (whether that’s the reality or not).
As for the argument that selfies are making us more self-obsessed than ever before, I reckon everyone from Elvis to Picasso to Marilyn Monroe would have taken selfies if they had the chance.
One thing’s for sure, selfies are here to stay, so embrace your inner artiste, grab your smartphone, extend your arm and #smile!