Dear Selfie

selfie3Dear Selfie,

I take issue with you, Selfie. Actually several.

And the fact that Oxford Dictionary, as part of a genius brand awareness ploy to prolong the death of its product life cycle, yesterday declared you as the Word of the Year for 2013 not only makes me  a little more depressed about the state of humanity, but it actually makes me a little nauseous.

Your meaning is pretty self-explanatory:  a photo taken of oneself with a smart phone or webcam for use on social media. Your origin dates back to when a gentleman first used you in an Australian chat room in 2002 to describe a photo he took of his injuries after falling down drunk.  Your Australian heritage makes sense when you think of the “ie” suffix often used by Aussies as shorthand (think barbie for barbeque).  But that’s about all that makes sense to me.

It turns out the frequency of your use has increased by 17,000% over the past year. Apparently a research program calculates this percentage after collecting roughly 150 million English words in use on the web each month.

I’m curious and at the same time frightened by the fact that so many people are into you that much.  It seems like the world has much larger fish to fry than looking at awkward pictures that people not only spend the time to take of themselves, but then take the time to post for reasons that I can only assume to be self-aggrandizement or the result of a drunken moment like the inventor of the word intended.

Don’t get me wrong, I post a picture of myself every now and then.  But it’s usually with someone or commemorating some kind of moment or experience, and it’s never self-taken.  I know I’m sounding preachy here, sorry Selfie.

 I do appreciate that you have helped make it easier for me to manage my social media.  Your overuse actually motivated me to learn how to control my filter on Facebook which has helped to control my Selfie overload. 

I also understand that reality and movie stars post Selfies to generate business.  That’s actually pretty smart. And in the blogging world they are relatively customary and I get that.  I even understand kids and teenagers who post Selfies to impress their peers, sort of.  But regular grownups who post Selfies …  are they afraid we keep forgetting what they look like?  Do they do it to see how many people will give them a “like” because they need it for the affirmation?  Or do they honestly not know anyone who can take a decent picture of them?

These are the questions that baffle me today, this day after your historical induction into the words of fame.

Congrats, dear Selfie.

Yours truly,


20 thoughts on “Dear Selfie

  1. I smell a new issue lurking on the horizon: Selfie Overload Syndrome, caused by overexposure to needless selfies on social media. Symptoms include dizziness, mild hallucinations, and useless comparisons to others one has never met. 😉

  2. The first time dear old selfie made itself known to me, was a few years back, around the time my daughter turned 13. Every single photo in her camera was a selfie. Completely cringing, especially with the duck lip kissy face. So yeah, not exactly a happy introduction. 🙂

  3. I wonder about the dead-celebrity-substitute selfie. Some guys use photos of Bob Marley, or Jimi Hendrix. If they are leftie political they use Karl Marx. If they think they are funny they use Groucho Marx. But it seems a tad morbid to have a dead man’s face representing you on Facebook or Twitter.

  4. Well said! The narcissism being fostered by social media in general and “selfies” in particular is pretty scary. An occasional update, a few new pictures, a way to stay in touch with family and friends, fine. But hundreds of pictures? Hundreds of so-called friends? I can’t imagine how anyone finds that interesting. At least Twitter requires some thought to edit an idea or comment down to its most clever, compact form. As far as I can tell, selfies require nothing but a bewildering fascination with one’s self. Not an attractive characteristic and, truth be told, rarely an attractive camera angle! Great post!

  5. I saw a blog post by Jim Watts about this first, then yours. Your selfie above is quite fetching, by the way. Sort of a one-eyed Picasso without any deconstructed body parts. I’ve never taken a selfie so that must make me a self-effacing Luddite. More likely just a middle-aged misanthrope.

  6. Since I only have a dumb phone, I’m not that acquainted with Selfie. I find it sad that it made word of the year when there are so many other good candidates available. It tells us something about the direction the human race is headed.

  7. I never remember how vulgar I can be on other peoples’ blogs, so feel free to delete this if saying dick is too much. Gosh, it does sound vulgar since typed it. Let’s use Richard instead. Why is a picture of a Richard called a Richard pic, but a photo of other parts of the body are all selfies? Why can’t a Richard pic be a selfie instead?

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