So it seems the word ‘selfie’ has been named word of the year by the Oxford Dictionary with research suggesting its frequency in the English language had increased by 17,000% in the past year. It states that the term has evolved from a niche social media tag into a general mainstream term for a self-portrait photograph.
To qualify for word of the year, the said word or phrase does not have to be invented in the last year, it simply has to have notably risen to prominence in that time. The word ‘selfie’ will now enter the Oxford Dictionary under the definition “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website”. Some argue that this is just the Oxford Dictionary attempting to remain relevant by embracing today’s dumbed-down society that we now live in, instead of trying to enlighten and educate people.
But as the selfie has now become one of the most popular cultural elements of our generation is it time to question the on-the-go medium of self-celebration available to every man and woman or is it just a harmless bit of fun and nothing more?
To be quite frank, and taking the voice of a grumpy middle aged man, it’s vanity of the most superficial kind. For example it’s not just me me me but also about how one looks. You post a picture online and you wait for a judgment based upon appearance alone, increasing your self-worth by a flurry of ‘likes’ or in contrast by a lack of. At least on Twitter, people are judged on their thoughts, rather than new hair colour or ugly chin face. The rise of the selfie has in no doubt been accelerated by the simultaneous rise of temporary photo sharing app ‘SnapChat’.
In closing while the rise of the ‘selfie’ may be a reflection of society’s narcissistic vices I would like to suggest that it is in fact the opposite, the rise of the ‘selfie’ displays a new social media sense of community and an urge to find ‘us’.