The Future of the Selfie Mania

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click here In their latest post, our strategic think tank Trendbüro discusses the current phenomenon of selfie sticks and the ongoing craze of taking pictures of yourself.

Have you ever thought about the dangers of a selfie stick? Pizza Hut did and recently released a video dealing with the perils that come with such a gadget:

Trollstation, part of a community of UK-based pranksters, also mocked this new it-piece when they roamed the streets of London with a three-metre monopod.

And this has now been topped with the Selfie Arm, a tongue-in-cheek design project. This portable disembodied appendage helps to disguise your narcissism and loneliness by giving the impression you’re holding another person’s hand. It seems that an increasing part of the internet is ridiculing the selfie and everything that comes with it. Does this mark the end for a generation of narcissists or will this mockery just make the selfie stronger?

30 per cent of all photos taken by people aged 18 to 24 are selfies. Half of those eventually are uploaded on Facebook. Many claim a selfie is the perfect manifestation of a generation of egoists that wants to outperform each other in popularity. The American writer John Paul Titlow has defined selfie-sharing as “a high school popularity contest on digital steroids”. Instagram alone reports more than 285 million photos are tagged “selfie” and 380 million tagged “me”. And in the recent “Everyday” app with the tagline “capture life” you are encouraged to upload a selfie every day to receive a movie of your life.

Presenting oneself in the very best way

It’s the control that people love about the selfie. They decide how to frame themselves, they know which angle makes them look best and they can take as many pictures as they want – until they have captured the most flattering selfie that looks as casual as it gets. According to Poppy Dinsey from What I Wore Today “(…) you’re not trusting someone else to make you look good”. Dr Mariann Hardey, a lecturer in marketing at Durham University, proved this theory in an article in The Guardian: “It’s an extension of our natural construction of self. It’s about presenting yourself in the best way (…) similar to when women put on makeup or men who bodybuild to look a certain way.”

There you go: the selfie as a symbol of vanity and narcissism. The tech industry has long seized this opportunity, be it the first front-facing camera in the iPhone 4 in 2010, additional selfie filters on Instagram in 2011 and of course the release of the strangely popular selfie stick.

Were all artists narcissistic egoists?

Is the selfie really nothing more than a proof of our generation’s narcissism? Consider the fact that the rise of selfies coincided with an increasing number of singles: Singles often lack someone around to take pictures of themselves or to share their experiences with. And bear in mind that even back in the olden days artists painted self-portraits, wrote diaries or published autobiographies. Were they all narcissistic egoists? Maybe even the most famous painters of the past would have developed the same selfie obsession if they had just had the technology.

Today’s photos come at the cost of almost nothing. This has opened up completely new possibilities. “Today, we’d be mistaken to define the selfie as a narcissist object or simple self-portrait”, Laurence Allard, a French professor and mobile technology specialist, stated in a TIME interview, “In my opinion, the selfie is a mobile photographic genre in itself – one that didn’t exist before.” She emphasises that the image is not only meant for others but that it is also “about expressing your own interior voice”. She’s convinced that the selfie is not so much about people’s view of themselves as it is about a person’s particular place in the world.

Affirmation of a “we” culture

It’s an easy way to record your life, to explore your identity and to share who you are and what you have experienced. Which brings us back to the staggering demand for selfie-sticks: It enables users to squeeze more people and background into the picture: isn’t this a clear move towards an affirmation of a “we” culture? It seems that most often the selfie is more like a mutual exchange – and not a self-centred one-man-show.

To conclude, it is safe to say that the selfie-mania is here to stay for a while. Arguably, the selfie is the best representation of the current zeitgeist. It’s not proof of a generation of egoists and narcissists but a consequence of digital possibilities. It is a communication tool that enables everyone to explore themselves and to share who you are and how you see the world. And maybe for the first time in the history of photography the selfie doesn’t encourage you to look back and reminisce but to celebrate the present – with as many people as you like.

Cover photo: Stephanie Overton/FlickrCC

trendbüro logo

In their latest post, our strategic think tank Trendbüro discusses the current phenomenon of selfie sticks and the ongoing craze of taking pictures of yourself.

Have you ever thought about the dangers of a selfie stick? Pizza Hut did and recently released a video dealing with the perils that come with such a gadget:

Trollstation, part of a community of UK-based pranksters, also mocked this new it-piece when they roamed the streets of London with a three-metre monopod.

And this has now been topped with the Selfie Arm, a tongue-in-cheek design project. This portable disembodied appendage helps to disguise your narcissism and loneliness by giving the impression you’re holding another person’s hand. It seems that an increasing part of the internet is ridiculing the selfie and everything that comes with it. Does this mark the end for a generation of narcissists or will this mockery just make the selfie stronger?

30 per cent of all photos taken by people aged 18 to 24 are selfies. Half of those eventually are uploaded on Facebook. Many claim a selfie is the perfect manifestation of a generation of egoists that wants to outperform each other in popularity. The American writer John Paul Titlow has defined selfie-sharing as “a high school popularity contest on digital steroids”. Instagram alone reports more than 285 million photos are tagged “selfie” and 380 million tagged “me”. And in the recent “Everyday” app with the tagline “capture life” you are encouraged to upload a selfie every day to receive a movie of your life.

Presenting oneself in the very best way

It’s the control that people love about the selfie. They decide how to frame themselves, they know which angle makes them look best and they can take as many pictures as they want – until they have captured the most flattering selfie that looks as casual as it gets. According to Poppy Dinsey from What I Wore Today “(…) you’re not trusting someone else to make you look good”. Dr Mariann Hardey, a lecturer in marketing at Durham University, proved this theory in an article in The Guardian: “It’s an extension of our natural construction of self. It’s about presenting yourself in the best way (…) similar to when women put on makeup or men who bodybuild to look a certain way.”

There you go: the selfie as a symbol of vanity and narcissism. The tech industry has long seized this opportunity, be it the first front-facing camera in the iPhone 4 in 2010, additional selfie filters on Instagram in 2011 and of course the release of the strangely popular selfie stick.

Were all artists narcissistic egoists?

Is the selfie really nothing more than a proof of our generation’s narcissism? Consider the fact that the rise of selfies coincided with an increasing number of singles: Singles often lack someone around to take pictures of themselves or to share their experiences with. And bear in mind that even back in the olden days artists painted self-portraits, wrote diaries or published autobiographies. Were they all narcissistic egoists? Maybe even the most famous painters of the past would have developed the same selfie obsession if they had just had the technology.

Today’s photos come at the cost of almost nothing. This has opened up completely new possibilities. “Today, we’d be mistaken to define the selfie as a narcissist object or simple self-portrait”, Laurence Allard, a French professor and mobile technology specialist, stated in a TIME interview, “In my opinion, the selfie is a mobile photographic genre in itself – one that didn’t exist before.” She emphasises that the image is not only meant for others but that it is also “about expressing your own interior voice”. She’s convinced that the selfie is not so much about people’s view of themselves as it is about a person’s particular place in the world.

Affirmation of a “we” culture

It’s an easy way to record your life, to explore your identity and to share who you are and what you have experienced. Which brings us back to the staggering demand for selfie-sticks: It enables users to squeeze more people and background into the picture: isn’t this a clear move towards an affirmation of a “we” culture? It seems that most often the selfie is more like a mutual exchange – and not a self-centred one-man-show.

To conclude, it is safe to say that the selfie-mania is here to stay for a while. Arguably, the selfie is the best representation of the current zeitgeist. It’s not proof of a generation of egoists and narcissists but a consequence of digital possibilities. It is a communication tool that enables everyone to explore themselves and to share who you are and how you see the world. And maybe for the first time in the history of photography the selfie doesn’t encourage you to look back and reminisce but to celebrate the present – with as many people as you like.

Cover photo: Stephanie Overton/FlickrCC