Why the Selfie isn't Going Away Anytime Soon

It's been mere weeks since Oxford Dictionaries declared "selfie" the Word of the Year for 2013, and already the word has shown up on several Words to Ban lists for 2014. Could this mean the official backlash against the selfie has begun and, thus, the selfie will eventually die out? Fat chance. For that to happen, there'd have to be a confluence of events so coordinated and global so as to suggest divine intervention.


For starters, smart devices would have to do away with the front-facing camera. Then there'd have to be some epic Town Hall-esque uproar over the innocuous thing. I'm talking massive hatred and condemnation, political and celebrity figures taking to the soapbox to extoll on the dangers of the horrible, no-good harmful selfie. Finally, all social media profiles would have to stop requiring a profile pic. Or disable liking of profile pics or any uploaded pics. Short of that, you're not going to get rid of the selfie. The older generation may hate them, as they are wont to hate anything from younger generations: The music, the fashion, the drugs, the parties, the politics were all so much better during OUR time, amirite? But just as social media isn't going anywhere, nor are smart devices, the selfie, much to your dismay, isn't going anywhere, either. 

So now that you're stuck looking at selfies for the foreseeable future—from the President, from the Pope, from entertainers and from your colleagues, family members, and even people you don't even like—a few words and predictions on how the selfie might evolve in 2014. 


(It's Not) All About Vanity

The selfie is something the individual controls. Whereas a photograph taken by a friend or photographer might not capture a person in the best light, the shared selfie is one that the individual chooses to represent him/herself with. Because they like how they actually look in the selfie, it gives the person power over how they choose to appear to their network of followers/friends. Particularly with the younger generation, the selfie then becomes a tool for identity/self-esteem building. I think more youth will take more selfies in an effort to have different profile pics. They'll change a pic that doesn't get enough likes, and replicate stances/facial expressions, or even scenery that gets a lot of likes. 

The Next Selfie Fad

As with everything else that's new, we get bored now very, very quickly. Duck lips were a thing for a bit. That, happily, seems to be fading away or evolving. Then there were the dog/cat beards. New fads surface for the selfie often. Maybe the next one will be some provocative pose? Or some stunt-related selfies (the next planking?). Whatever it is, I'm sure we'll know it by its ubiquitously (and eventually overused) hashtag. 

The Celebrity Selfie

It makes complete sense that more and more celebrities are taking to Instagram and Twitter and Facebook to post selfies—they can control the output. While, yes, some celebs do have a small team (read: Instassistant) around to make sure the selfie looks good, it still is, at the end of the day, under the celebrity's control. As such, it is a direct and intimate way to share their own visual diary with their fans, a way of letting fans get closer to them than, say, through the magazine interview, or the glossy photo spread, or the press junket. Plus, as James Franco can attest, share a few selfies and you're also likely have the other parts of your life that you share—paintings, for instance—exposed to your fan base in a more visual and organic way. 

The Artistic Selfie

So basically everybody wants to rule the selfie world. Art imitates life, so I would not be surprised if younger artists and even established artists produce their own artistic selfie, thus raising the bar for everyone to up their selfie game.