Last month, the Oxford Dictionary formalized the inclusion of the term “selfie” in its illustrious database of acceptable English words, and they were absolutely right to do so – the act of taking a selfie, which is defined as “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website”, is becoming more than a fad. For some, it’s a way of life. Although this can be proven by a quick search on your social networking site of choice – may it be Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram – a more official look into the trend actually shows that since the end of 2011, people have only gotten more and more interested in selfies.
In fact, according to a recent poll, for the age from of 18 to 24, 30 percent of all photography is composed of selfies taken using a cellphone.
The origin of the selfie is a little bit unclear, but as it goes with everything that becomes popular on the Web, this craze for self portraiture has garnered itself a slew of haters. According to a recent study, most of your friends are sick of seeing your beautified, carefully-filtered mug posted online.
So how are the detractors attacking the selfie-selfishness? Like this.
Or more pointedly, this.
These are only some of the photos tagged #antiselfie on Instagram, photos mocking the overflow of “real” selfies by intentionally making ugly facial expressions, hiding their faces, or just calling out selfie-obsessed friends. Some who refuse to participate with a self portrait, even an ugly one, are adopting the hashtag #uglyselfie and making their cases on Twitter:
And this all just skims the surface of the signs of anti-selfie activism brewing.
In her radio show The Current, CBC personality Anna Maria Tremonti recently discussed the obsession surrounding the selfie with three guest speakers. While New York based writer Sarah Nicole Pricket was all for taking selfies and considering them a form of art and an adequate way of self-promotion for a better career, authors Andrew Keen and Hal Niedzciecki both perceive the fad as a form of narcissism, one that’s intensified by people’s love of popular culture.
Apart from causing relationships to fall apart, taking selfies has also been found to cause confidence problems in teens, which isn’t all that surprising: The power of the Like button is so strong that it’s actually caused very serious Internet addictions. “I think that people go selfie-crazy for several reasons, but I think the biggest is that it’s easy to get addicted to social media feedback,” says blogger Chinie H. Diaz, who has a comic series based on the Anti-Selfie League. “It really is addictive actually, since we get a little jolt of dopamine every time someone likes or comments on something we post. The more feedback we receive, the more we want, and the more we post – and so the never-ending cycle begins.”
Diaz believes that there’s nothing wrong with selfies per se, it’s us that’s the problem. “There’s [no] such thing as an acceptable or unacceptable selfie. Your wall, your rules, right? Post away. I do however think that when someone’s social media feed consists of nothing but selfies, there’s something more than a little off about that. Because really, there’s got to be more to your life than that.”
Diaz and her friends started using the #antiselfieleague on Twitter and Instagram after a fun night of poking fun at the different kinds of selfies they’d see online. “The ‘league’ was supposed to be made up of people who had never posted a selfie online, but I went and broke that rule about a month later because I had to use a selfie for one of my blog posts,” shares Diaz. She drew several illustrations of selfies they’ve discussed and made clever names for them, all of which are on her Instagram account.
Fortunately the offense against selfies isn’t to troll them or pepper them with negative comments – it’s to gently mock them. Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook are littered with #antiselfiemovement, #antiselfie, and #antieselfieleague hashtags, full of “ugly” self-portraits, sometimes sans filters, some sarcastic reappropriations of cliche selfie poses. There’s a variety of ways to point out your dissent.
While the movement is absolutely mocking selfie-takers, it’s also making fun of itself – it all gives off a “don’t take yourself so seriously” vibe. Reddit may have served as inspiration for this type of selfie-hating, with its forum that encourage pretty girls to make ugly faces; and it’s one of the more popular subreddits with over 20,000 readers.
So are we soon to see selfies die at the hands of these activists? Unlikely. If there’s anything social media has done to us, it’s made us horribly self-interested. But perhaps the anti-selfie movement will help bring us back to reality just a bit, back from the brink of Toaster filters and skin beautifying apps. A bit of reality thrown in our faces can’t hurt, right? A little self(ie)-deprecation never hurt anybody.