Selfie, old and new

The ancient self-portraits, back in trend as selfies, are a means of self-exploration for Gen-Z.

Selfies facilitate self and identity exploration. One of the most effective ways to know yourself and the world to know you.  “Like this past weekend, I just got this nose ring, and so I was really excited about it, so I sent everyone a picture of me and my new nose ring,” a college student said.

There’s a saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. That may be especially true these days with the huge amount of what are called “selfies” on the Internet. This popular trend of taking a picture of yourself has become pervasive. The Pope’s doing it, President Barack Obama’s doing it, and celebrities like singer Justin Bieber are doing it and our honourable ache din laane wale prime minister; all the time doing it.

In our globally connected 24/7 worlds, anything that gets attention gets talked about. With the introduction of the smart phones and front facing cameras, the selfies have become an incredibly popular phenomenon with millions of photos taken every day. Some view these self-created, self-portraits as a proof of cultural or at least generational narcissism and moral decline. I, on the other hand, view them as a by-product of technology-enabled self-exploration. Selfies offer the opportunities to show facets of you, such as the arty side, the silly side, or the glamorous side.

Selfies are indeed ancient. They date back to 10th century England when St. Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury Tales, created a self-portrait of himself worshipping Jesus - that’s 1,200 years before the modern camera was invented. Today the self-portrait is simply the selfie, and instead of elaborate paintings or long exposure film, a selfie, happens with a mobile phone and goes global is an instant via social media. 

There are basically two schools of thought on the psychological reinforcement of selfies. One is that selfies are actually good for self-esteem and the second being that selfies are sometimes taken by those with low self worth. Definitely, both of these aspects are represented amongst those regularly posting selfie images, which raises the question of how best to utilise this trend of marketing and then with the later group, is it ethical to do so?

But to look at the selfie another way, it could be a form of art. Van Gogh painted pictures of himself and so did Rembrandt. When young people see celebrities posting pictures that emphasise their attractiveness, they get the message that that’s what they should be doing as well. That they should be emphasising their own physical qualities over and above all other qualities they may have, and that can really affect their self-esteem.
Selfies is a trend that will not go away. As the present generation get older we’ll see less selfies , but right behind them there’s a younger group of kids waiting to come into that same phase.

Every human under the sun likes to get praised online or offline. Sometimes admirations and likes from others act as a moral booster. Selfies, undoubtedly acts as a catalyst in personality upliftment. Call it the morning mantra of our generation, but the flag of selfies is hoisted high and is flying in its own valour in the firmament of social media.

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