My Selfie, Myself

Posting photos of ourselves online is an inviting and informative way to keep in touch.

It's amazing that most people seem to find themselves interesting enough to be the subject of continuous self-adoration for others to admire. Brushing your teeth and showing your new tatoo online don't qualify as introduction.

16 2018-09-23 05:07:05 - daveyrh

Cindy Sherman is the only artist I can think of who makes "selfies" which are truly fascinating.

5 2017-05-01 17:53:12 - Laura

"It’s too simplistic to write off these images as the work of narcissists."
Sometimes simple is best... or...
~ All truth is simple... is that not doubly a lie? Nietzsche

3 2017-04-08 21:02:53 - Steve

While there may be certain occasions and situations when a selfie adds something extra, the reality is that the vast majority of selfies serve one of two purposes. The first is the "I think I look amazing today" photos, usually exhibited under the pretense the photo is serving some other, less vain purpose, such as showing off the new article of clothing recently purchased. The second purpose is to create an alternate reality that one's life is just so interesting or fun . The reality one wishes were true. Why do so many selfies show people with their mouth open in ecstatic joy or laughter? After all, the photo was not a fleeting moment captured by someone else but was taken by the person themself in a controlled environment. The reasoning is that not only will other people looking at the photo assume the person is having an amazing time, a time much better than they themselves are having, but the person who took the photo will look back on it later and fool themselves they were having a great time, thus convincing themselves their lives are amazing and successful.
Or perhaps I just need my morning coffee.

5 2017-02-25 21:39:52 - McKenzie

There is a therapy called DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, developed by Marsha Linehan) that incorporates the teaching of skills to manage extreme emotional storms. I discovered in that therapy the 'half-smile'. Just an upturning of the mouth into a small smile with increase the feeling of well-being. It is so simple, but yet it really works. Your mom was right. :)

0 2017-02-25 18:00:32 - sophia

Like anything, it can be done well and meaningfully, and it can be done stupidly. It's important to see distinctions in all things.

4 2016-12-18 05:06:58 - Redpoint

I don't think the selfie is an either/or proposition. For sure, vanity and exhibitionism must factor in, but I agree with the author that it's not reducible to only those impulses. The selfie is a way to author your experiences in a new medium, especially the selfies that capture more than just the face itself. It's a way to personalize a context (reportage v. reporting) and to contextualize the person in time and space. Different from the usual photo taken by a third person because the viewer is aware that the subject of the picture has simultaneously edited the picture.

2 2016-12-09 09:56:35 - jnc

One of the ways people deluded themselves about the brave new world of the Internet was that it would do away with the editors, publishers, tastemakers and corporate overlords of the establishment. Now, everyone can be a writer, a photographer, an artist. Well, everyone can be, but you know what? Everyone isn't.

48 2016-11-29 22:15:50 - Perfect Gentleman

I think that this article is not critical enough. The problem is not with the selfie as a performative act in itself, but with what its ubiquity says about the psychological state of a large portion of its performers.

11 2016-11-27 09:22:06 - Lenwe

I completely understand and identify with looking at old photos and basking in the pleasure of the remembered experience.

What I don't get is the need to have people you don't know and who don't know you look at the photos. Even a slew of positive comments from strangers doesn't validate who you are. Only people who know you can do that. Basically it's just more noise in the cacophony of everyone yelling: "Look at me! Look at me!"

3 2016-11-15 05:33:33 - Hugh CC

I wonder why the need to elevate what IS basically an empty exercise in vanity, to the the level of some sort of cosmic, universal, need. What nonsense. I don't endorse the breaking down of all norms - even if wishing against these changes is a bit like sticking your finger in a dyke. Putting your food on display on social media, your vacations, your intimate apparel, your face (edited by you), all this is self-promotion and violates what used to be a recognized good: modesty. It is not considered immodest any more to boast about any and all conspicuous consumption. It is not considered immodest to brag about one's "post-baby body", or deploy carefully curated images of one's anatomy, but that doesn't mean we all have to like it. Or declare it universal and necessary! Silly article.

23 2016-10-27 15:41:29 - NH

For lack of a better word? There is a better word and it's been around for hundreds of years: self-portrait. Artists and photographers have explored this territory ad infinitum, some building entire careers out of it. And as you say, so have many amateur photographers. What has changed is the use of some stupid cutesy buzzword, I cannot even bring myself to type, that is suddenly in accepted use and the technology to rapidly distribute these images to people who probably don't care. Give me a Nan Goldin, a John O'Reilly, a Duane Michals, a Cindy Sherman, give me a self-portrait, but for god's sake don't send me a selfie.

10 2016-09-23 10:22:13 - Michael L.

This tortured defense of the selfie never addresses the main problem: There's no there there. Like myriad internet business plans, the selfie takes nothing and tries to convince people it is something. Look at my face everyone! Can't you see the soulfulness, the quirky sense of humor, the core of steel wrapped by an attractive casing of vulnerable humanity? It's there I tell you -- look closer!

Futurist goofball Sherry Turkle famously said "I share, therefore I am." No need to actually *do* anything, just share. The selfie, in its best form, is a crystallization of internet vapidity, the belief that sharing the fact of your face you have somehow contributed. I'm afraid you haven't.

And the worst form? Women exploited via revenge porn. All because they sought intimacy and actual sharing, but fell prey to the notion a cell phone can give you those things.

27 2016-08-12 17:10:56 - fjsalazar

I agree with both Larry and Liz.
an idea though. instead of posting a selfie, what if a hello and a smile to the next person
in the street, in the office, at the bookstore ..
Maybe we would remember the smile like a fresh breeze or a sun ray in a misty morning.
Does not matter whose face it came from, a smile comes not from a face but from a soul. A smile is a hello echoed from one to another and another and another.

9 2016-08-05 04:46:46 - marie-ancolie

I certainly would have liked to see the portrait of the woman pilot so lovingly described in this piece. Why in the world wasn't it included with all the other photos?

27 2016-07-15 10:28:40 - Samsara
"Selfies", or self-portraits, have also been created by some of the greatest painters and photographers in history. They can be as different as individuals and technology allow. When I was taking photography classes in college in the 1970s and 1980s, they were a core assignment in the first year because they are unique type of image. They forced us to be both photographer and subject at the same time, and to pre-visualize in a special way (when we used 10-second self-timers after setting up the image). We were critiqued by other students and we were graded on how well we performed the assignment. I submitted a very discreet nude of myself that I had taken on black and white film which I developed and printed, and it was well liked by our little class of 15 students. I look back on that image and all the other photographs of myself that I took in the following years, and I am quite glad I took them.

Some people may dismiss selfies as youthful indulgences, and sometimes they are (so what? it doesn't really matter what others think), but they can be much more, including a sort of continuing documentary project. The passing of time adds tremendous personal value to all images of ourselves and our environments. To those who take them: as days pass into decades, you will not regret capturing those self-chosen moments in your lives, which can reveal much more than you thought and which may be cherished by family members and friends.
1 2016-07-05 15:45:08 - Marc
I'd like to read what the author of this piece makes of mirrors. There's probably some real depths to be plumbed with those. Put two of them face to face and stand in between - what kind of personality does that indicate, and what can we learn about a person who would to that?

Once I was fumbling with my phone and pressed a wrong button, later realizing I'd taken a picture of myself accidentally. Now I have to consider whether if that was really an accident, or a unknown side of me deliberately pushing that button as a cry to be let out.

0 2016-06-06 10:18:29 - Iver Thompson
Mr. Eisenberg,
I could not agree more!
2 2016-06-05 09:18:13 - Leah Nault

There are extremes; ultimately, it requires a bit of introspection to be aware of how one is using technology. Why am I taking this picture? Why am I sharing? As Sherry Turkle says, we confuse "sharing" with "being". This is problematic, a potentially superficial way of living one's life.

We are flooded with pictures - surely this must be adding up to some kind of carbon footprint somewhere in the cloud. We could do with a bit more self-regulation, I think.

Ravi Chandra, M.D.

7 2016-06-02 10:03:22 - Ravi

I enjoy seeing photographs of people taken by other people, but these "selfie" things are boring and stupid and narcissistic.

29 2016-05-27 06:29:38 - Anne Russell

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