A Defense for the Selfie

I love that I live in the Information Age.

As an aspiring journalist, information and its movement is incredibly fascinating to me.

I am part of the generation that was the first to grow up with a computer and a handheld phone. I keep in my pocket access to nearly anyone or any information in the world. I am able to carry with me camera, calculator, library, notepad, recorder, cds, game console, and phone, all in one device.

This technology didn’t exist fifteen, twenty years ago. We are communicating with more people and in more ways than ever before

I do really mean in more ways. Internet is its own subculture. From the 140-character tweet, to memes, to hashtags, to formatting an Instagram post, each social media platform has its own language, its own subset of humor, and its own popular topics.

And with this culture arose the dreaded selfie.Selfie

It’s seen as a mark of self-involvement or self-obsession. How else could posting a picture of yourself, taken by yourself, for the mere purpose of getting likes and comments be seen?

To some extent, it’s true. There are far too many people who put all the eggs of their self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-worth into the metaphorical internet basket. With that said, though, the selfie is just one tiny facet of the greater technological culture—a culture that is new, that is exciting, and that has given us so many other tools.

People have been figuring out how to take pictures of themselves since the beginning of time. It used to be through professional painters or sculptors, available only to the wealthy. The sole purpose of a photobooth is to take pictures of yourself with your loved ones. Generation upon generation has been self-obsessed, and ours is no different. We simply now have the tools to materialize it, and are you really going to say that a 13-year-old taking selfies on her phone is more self-involved than an ancient emperor who claimed to be a god and erected statues of himself?

Even still, I would argue that the selfie is not primarily used as a tool to show off.

Yes, a large part of the selfie culture is just posting pictures to show how good-looking you are, or how fit you are, or the newest gadget you got. Under the layer of self-importance, though, is something much more meaningful.

A selfie is more than just a picture of oneself. It’s a way to capture a moment that is somehow special to you, whether that moment was with friends, at a graduation, or just a day you were feeling particularly attractive.

Many of the pictures I hold dear are selfies with family and friends. My phone, my computer, and my bedroom walls are all littered with pictures my friend group took of our outings. And with the rise of Snapchat, selfies have moved beyond just capturing memories to a form of communication, as well.

There is something to be said for the ease of access to photographs technology has given us. With digital cameras and iPhones, there is no film to develop, no wait time, no limit to the number of pictures one can take. More than ever, we are able to capture memories of the people and things we value.

Can people tie too much meaning into their selfies? Absolutely.

But in the Information Age, in my generation, there is a form of self-expression in self-obsession. Selfies are more about capturing moments and memories than getting social media validation.

So selfie away, because a picture is worth a thousand words.

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