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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Celebrating the Selfie

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As I sat at my kitchen counter many times over break, I would take out my phone to Snapchat my Carleton friends who I didn’t get to see for six weeks. Every time I snapped a picture of my face in some weird contorted manner, my mom would laugh and say, “Don’t you realize how weird you look?” She couldn’t quite grasp the concept of us millennials sending pictures of our faces back and forth to each other. I don’t think it makes much sense either, but I do it anyway.

The concept of a selfie by itself makes sense to me on one level, because it appears to be a natural progression from historic forms of narcissism. In any art museum, there are countless portraits of people who sat down for hours and paid a lot of money to have a picture of themselves produced to last for all ages. So, when Kylie Jenner posts a selfie that gets hundreds of thousands of likes on Ins- tagram, or I send a Snapchat to my friends, are we really a new, wholly narcissistic generation? The tradition of wanting to celebrate one’s self has been around a long time, not just some new phenomena that started with the invention of the front-facing iPhone camera.

This tradition has simply changed form through technology.

The selfie has become an important form of communication, not just a way for us to celebrate our bodies and looks. Yes, there are the Kylie Jenners of the world that can flawlessly pull off a mirror picture, post it to any given social media platform, and stun the world with their beauty. I applaud the people who take selfies and post them to more permanent places. However, the majority of selfies I take are sent and disappear forever (thank God) on Snapchat. Conversations lasting days, from debates about the best Justin Bieber song to checking in with your friend’s emotional state, can all take place with a picture of your face. A facial expression can say a lot, and selfies allow you to communicate with text and visuals. Am I taking these pictures for myself, to share with the whole world? Heck no. I use the selfie to have a conversation with someone, to see a friend’s face I won’t get to see otherwise for a while.

Yet, as with the example of Kylie Jenner, there are many people who confidently share their selfies with the whole world. I think it’s somewhat brave to post a selfie. When I look at Snapchat pictures or selfies I’ve taken with friends, I often focus on all the ‘flaws’ in the picture—the lighting could be better, I could have lifted my chin up a little higher, or the way I held the phone awkwardly cut off half of my friends’ head in the picture. Selfies certainly aren’t art in the way that old portraits are, but there certainly is an ‘art’ to taking a good selfie. It requires you to be happy with the way you look in the moment you take the picture, which many people struggle with. I find it hard to have someone take a picture of me that I’m wholly in love with. So when someone posts a selfie every once in a while, I support their self-love.

However, people aren’t perfect, and, yes, our generation can become too self-involved in the selfie. We usually never ask anyone to take our picture for us, opting instead to take a selfie which probably will cut out the beautiful background we want to be captured in the picture. The song “#SELFIE” does not reflect the body-positive, self-loving aspects of the selfie I support, nor does it promote the selfie’s value as a method of communication. The main question to ask yourself when taking a selfie is, “What’s my intent?” If you’re just trying to thrive in positivity, taking a selfie to have fun, sending a Snap to a loved friend, or taking a moment to appreciate those around you, go for it. If you selfie, do it responsibly. Treat yourself well. Remember that you can ask people to take a group photo for you. Remember to smile genuinely. People love you because you are you, and a selfie can be one way to share that with the world.

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