Look at the mirror. Smile. That’s a selfie – only that, that’s only half of it. The other half is when you bring that mirror to a bus terminal or a public market and reveal the same smile on the opposite side of the mirror to a crowd where some you know, some you don’t.
Many have gone so fond of selfies. It is a self-manufactured product that you can populate in cyberspace with hardly any capital investment. It is your own advertising world where you are all three: client, creative consultant and media channel. It capitalizes on a production line where you have full control of both front-end and back-end – and you do your own inventory, accounting and audit.
Sometime last year, a debatable article (which veracity was questioned) wrote about the American Psychiatric Association’s classification of selfies as a “mental disorder”. To many who have memorized every angle and line on their friends’ faces on Facebook, the article did appear accurate. But others shrugged it off. “Leave them alone!” one commented, in defense of those who have taken self-expression and self-affirmation on another level.
Quite recently, another article popped up, referring to millennials and today’s generation as “narcissistic”. There seems to be an intent to draw attention to oneself, to generate “feel good” feedback or comments that boost self-confidence. Instead of sharing life experiences, chronicling events, and translating social media influence to something that inspires, the article wrote that many have seemingly become self-centered. Or at least that’s how their selfie poses project them in social media.
In a sense, selfies trap you in a box where prudence leaves your friends and followers with only three choices: a comment that blows the horn, a “Like” click that affirms, or no trace of a reaction at all. Of course, you can’t be the infamous antagonist to rain on someone’s parade: “Wow! You need a complete facelift!”
Like a race to the finish, people have become more and more creative with their selfies. There are now props, accessories, or social diorama that make the foreground sharp and crisp. Facebook featured “before and after” photos of hardcore selfie fans. One “after shot” shows a great facial capture with dried leaves underneath her to showcase a relaxing life during springtime – effective! But when blown up beyond the cropped area, the same scene features the lady resting on a pile of leaves from a foliage by a dumpster.
Selfies can be your modern-day theatrics. They zero in on strong emotions. There are those who have mastered the art of focusing the camera on themselves while in tears or in deep thought. When enough is enough, you ask: “Anyare?” (a popular Tagalog slang and expression that makes light of a serious inquiry into what happened).
Not all photos of one’s self can be considered a selfie though. There are times when, because there is no one with us on trips or during special events, we are forced to take a photo of ourselves with monuments or an unfolding ceremony. One says selfies are often taken after one realizes it has been some time since he or she has taken a photo of himself or herself. Compared to self-portraits, selfies, some online articles explain, capture the mundane, the inconsequential. It makes something “productive” of boredom.
In 2013, The Huffington Post released an article titled: “Posting too many Facebook ‘selfies’ can hurt your real-world relationships, study says”.
It wrote: “The study found that both excessive photo sharing and sharing photos of a certain type makes almost everyone like you less. ‘This is because people, other than very close friends and relatives, don’t seem to relate well to those who constantly share photos of themselves,’ explained Dr. David Houghton, the study’s lead author, in a statement released by Scotland’s Heriot-Watt University. ‘It’s worth remembering that the information we post to our ‘friends’ on Facebook, actually gets viewed by lots of different categories of people: partners; friends; family; colleagues and acquaintances; and each group seems to take a different view of the information shared.’”
This brings to mind a comment an intern in the office told me: “Sir, I unfollowed you on Instagram and Facebook. You just had too many food pics! Every time I looked at your photos, I always became hungry.”
To think that comment was made on photos of food. How much more seeing the same facial shot over and over again.