The selfie. We’ve all taken one. We’ve all posed awkwardly in the background of one, and we all have that one friend who searches endlessly for the right filters until they’re barely recognisable. Don’t have that friend? Well then that person is probably you. Either way, the selfie has grown from an annoying staple of Facebook newsfeeds to an accepted part of media culture.
By Laura Cox
Naturally, the human arm was deemed simply too short for selfie taking, and from that predicament the selfie stick was born. But the selfie stick isn’t about new-age, cutting edge technology, solving a problem and improving our lives. It’s just a continuation of an age-old obsession with the way that we look.
Despite the industrial manipulation of our appearance obsession, representations of image have had mixed press. The 2014 television series ‘Selfie’, starring Dr Who favourite Karen Gillan, warned of the effects of projecting your self-image, while the horror film ‘Unfriended’, also produced last year, saw a girl shamed by a home-made video. Her spirit then returns to haunt an online chat room. Of course these stories are fictional, but for Danny Bowman taking a selfie really did become a matter of life or death. The teenager developed a mental illness which, after taking around two-hundred selfies a day for two years, culminated in a suicide attempt. So it seems that the danger of image obsession, now perpetuated by social media selfies, are becoming more well known.
Is the selfie trend, and the gadget that accompanies it, about capturing a super-fun-absolutely-must-publicise moment? Or is it just vanity? The Danny Bowman case saw the selfie manifest into a deadly outlet for a serious mental disorder. Is this an isolated case, or will more young people, anxious to fit certain physical criteria, find themselves drowning in their own perceived inadequacies? The future of self-image is uncertain. A preoccupation with the way that we look is an age-old concern, except now we have the technology to edit ourselves into almost entirely different people.
One spin-off device is Acer’s ‘Selfie Sombrero’, which is best explained as a selfie stick, except the stick is… Yep, a Sombrero. Although this technology is undoubtedly tongue-in-cheek, it’s still being developed, and it’s still being bought. Novelty or otherwise, we’ve come to accept this kind of devicce as another part of social media. The future of self image is an interesting topic, and as the physical requirements of society change so will our perceptions of self-worth. Accompanying this search for the perfect selfie will be new gadgets which, like the selfie stick, seem a little silly at first, but then begin to take a steady hold.
Not only can we change how we look with the click of a button, we can cast out our image into the world, probably without really knowing who can see us. Our personal visibility is undoubtedly expanding. And with all of our online profiles now important points of call for potential employers, our selfies might just portray us in ways others might not appreciate.