We used to call them selfers in my family. They were the photos that you took when no one was around to help you out and take one for you. We have selfers of being in Hawaii, at the Grand Canyon—places that you went and wanted to have a photo to remember that you were there.
And because back in the dark ages before digital we used to send our film out to get developed, we would have to wait (?!) to see how well we framed the shot. Often heads would be cut off or the shot would pretty much be one looking up everyone’s nostrils. It definitely was not a precise science but a fun gamble to see what you ended up with.
We’ve gone from having to drive up to a Fotomat (remember those? They were those little house-like kiosks that you’d drop off and pick up your film from?) and wait days to view our photos, to having it immediately available to see. I remember when I used to have to pay attention to how many shots I had left on my roll—now I can click till my heart’s content.
As I looked back through my photo albums (also a pre-digital reality for me…) to see what selfers I might have to share for this post, it was interesting to see the evolution. When I went to Europe after I graduated college, there is not a single photo of my friend that I traveled with and me together. Zero. There are a few pics of us alone—at the railing of the Eiffel Tower, on the Piazza San Marco in Venice—but not a single one of us together. As I looked in albums of later years, I found an occasional selfer typically taken on a vacation.
Hard to imagine in this age of the selfie, isn’t it?
Yes, as we are all well aware, the word evolved into selfie, and when most people—thanks to their cell phones—carried a camera everywhere with them, the prevalence and reasons to take a selfie evolved, too. And then phones started to have front-facing cameras for you to see the framing as you took the pic! Look out, world! The phenomenon blew up.
Coinciding with this easy ability to snap selfies was the evolution of social media. With a couple touches of the screen, you can share a pic in any number of places instantaneously. For many, Facebook is their modern day photo album—a place to house all sorts of photos—including selfies.
There’s a lot of freedom granted us in the digital world. And with this freedom comes the opportunity to make some, shall we say interesting choices.
We are definitely a culture of instant gratification, but there’s also a shift in mindset, too. Now we have congressmen and NFL stars taking pics of their peeps to send to whomever. We have kids in middle school doing the same. In fact, we have apps like Snapchat where a person can send a photo and have it “disappear” after viewing (unless the recipient takes a screenshot).
I guess that speaks to the quantity and quality of what is actually being sent. If you want a photo to disappear (even though it risks getting captured and saved), then…what is it that you are sending?
I remember when my college roommate took a surprise photo of me in the shower. Let’s just say I was less than thrilled. I made her give me the photo and the negative when she got them developed, but even knowing the guy at the Kodak store could see the photo creeped me out. Now women sext to guys just trying to get them interested in going on a date.
The selfie culture is so ubiquitous that there’s a new TV show coming out this fall with that as its name. (It’s actually supposed to be a remake of My Fair Lady. Wha??)
Don’t get me wrong—I’m not coming down on the concept of selfies—I have taken plenty and still get a kick out of them (as evidenced by the photos here). But I do wonder what the impact of this focus on self means in our society. Our desire to capture ourselves for others to see can be funny or interesting, for sure…but it also can be rather self-involved.
I really do wish that there were a few photos of my friend and me on our European expedition. They would have been nice keepsakes to have. But the photos I do have from that trip show the beauty of what we experienced. A far cry from the recent “news” story about Kim Kardasian being in Thailand and snapping 1200 selfies. I’m thinking that she just may have missed the beauty of Thailand, don’t you?
I do feel a bit sheepish—or selfie-indulgent—in sharing the photos I have in this post, but I wanted to share a few old school selfers. It does feel very “look at me!” though. Hope it doesn’t strike you as Kardasian in any way.
That’s just a tad too selfie-ish for my liking.