Look out, here comes a selfie…article

We were so busy snarking about selfie photos that we missed the advent of the selfie article


There has been a lot written about the “selfie” lately. Heads of state took selfies at Nelson Mandela’s funeral. Colin Powell posted a retro-selfie. Ellen Degeneres’ selfie at the Oscars went viral, although the shot was as pre-planned as her comedy routine that night, and this was met with alarm, but why? A selfie is a pretend-candid shot taken over and over again until our perfect face is captured. Then it is flung across the internet like a day-glo frisbee to friends and – we hope – to strangers, around the world.

So there is much kerfuffle about selfies these days. Selfies are tied to a rise in plastic surgery, we are told, while others say selfies boost girl power. There are gauche selfies, taken at funerals (with their own distateful tumblr to go along with them), taken at suicide attempts, and even taken at plane crashes. There are selfies with humor and selfies that roar. Also, selfies that give you head lice.

Yes, a lot has been written about the selfie. Too much, really. So it’s only appropriate that I jump on board, with my own selfie view on selfies. This, despite the fact that a great article just came out in Wired by the incisive Mat Honan on the subject. But a selfie always covers old ground, ad nauseum, with just a different “self” at its center. I’m writing this (and you seem to be reading it), but I’ve got really nothing new to say, just the same old duck lips poses and chin tilts.

Welcome to the selfie article.

The selfie article should take as much flak as the selfie photo, if not more. A photo at least proudly trumpets its point. Look at me, here at this gravesite! it cackles. The selfie article, on the other hand, often tries to mask the face in the center of the frame. Internet trolling comes to mind; trolls write long acerbic comebacks and slapdowns, but their intention is not to take a vital intellectual stance. It’s to shine a spotlight on themselves – the equivalent of a sparrow face selfie at the scene of a bloody multiple vehicle accident. Or take this example from the Guardian newspaper, in which a reporter who was assigned to review a book used the opportunity to savage the author and promote his own book, even providing a link to buy should the reader be so moved. Why didn’t the reporter forgo the review part completely, and simply snap a picture of himself holding the book? That, at least, would have been more honest.

So it’s time to lighten up on the selfie photo, and turn our attention to the selfie article. It might not spread head lice, but it does spread malice, an ugly parasitic problem all its own.

Caroline Paul and Wendy MacNaughton
Caroline Paul is the author of "East Wind, Rain" and "Fighting Fire," and she co-wrote "Lost Cat: A True Story of Love, Desperation and GPS Technology" with her partner Wendy MacNaughton. MacNaughton's illustrations have appeared in The New York Times, Juxtapoz, and Print Magazine. "Lost Cat" was inspired by the curious disappearances of their beloved Tibia.
Caroline Paul and Wendy MacNaughton
Tags: Downtime,Gadgets & Devices,Tech Culture