Thursday, August 28, 2014

Why Selfie?

I've been meaning to write this blog post since April when I read this article in the Metro about the possibility of selfies being outlawed. While this idea seems absolutely ridiculous to me, it did get me thinking about selfies, and I thought about how lucky I am that I was 21 and already in my third year at University when Facebook became a 'thing' among my friends. I mean, school is generally horrendous for taking hits to your self confidence, I can't imagine what it must be like to be a teenager now with Facebook, Whatsapp, Snapchat etc. A veritable minefield of backhanded compliments and sarcastic 'lol's, I imagine.

Bringing me to the selfie...and I am specifically referring to those pictures you take of yourself generally when no one else is around, when you're not doing anything in particular that needs to be documented in a photo and you're just taking it to look good in a photo. I will happily admit, I am a selfie taker. I've been taking selfies since before phone cameras could flip to face-view. And I do mean those ones that you take purely to make yourself look good.

Douche shot which is embarrassingly actually on Facebook. I remember this and I was just liking how my hair was looking that day. I do still take these selfies now in my late twenties, but generally only when I've done my make-up/hair a little differently and, I'll admit it, I think I look good, and I don't often take the effort to make myself look good as I am a lazy fucker and I want to capture it while it lasts.

These pictures don't see the light of Facebook and personally, I think they're harmless. They're generally just for me, or, at a stretch I might send them to Ben or to a close friend in a Ron Burgundy "Come see how good I look!" kind of way.

So why then, is the Metro newspaper writing an article about their possible outlawing? Well, there's a few reasons, the one that struck me the most is the idea that selfies could be damaging to our self confidence. While I will happily snap my freshly made up face now and again these days, I know I can't be the only one who has, at one time or another, felt frustrated, upset and ultimately, unattractive because a picture I'd taken of myself didn't turn out the way I'd hoped, and, despite several retries, I was still unhappy with the result. If a picture is worth a thousand words, I only saw one - 'ugly'.

Needless to say, such selfies barely live on the phone for long and will never see the light of Facebook.
However, selfies are usually taken because the selfie-taker is feeling particularly attractive, and, in this digital age, several retakes are possible before the perfect selfie is created, so the pictures that do see the light of Facebook are generally of a very high standard. My question is, why do we feel the need to upload these pictures to the internet?

It does seem the main purpose of a selfie, if they are uploaded to Facebook/Twitter/Instagram, is to show off as Mr. Geary states in the Metro article, but, have you considered how you might feel if you got a negative comment on your picture? Think about it, your third take was perfect, you angled your head just right, you've got great light and your hair has no flyaways, you nailed it - you instagram/facebook/tweet it, and then some twat comments 'you look like a constipated dog' or a far less far-fetched but possibly more hurtful 'ooh, not your best' from a good friend. How this kind of comment affects you will probably give you an idea as to whether next time you should rethink before self-snapping and uploading. If your self-worth is coming from what others think of you, it's time you put down the camera phone and went and spent some time with good people who will help you realise your self-worth.

After my birthday last year, I posted this picture on Facebook:

I woke up with a hangover from an awesome birthday night out and a glimpse of myself in the bathroom mirror had made me realise how hilarious I looked with glitter still on my face and my hair an absolute mess from dancing the night away - I snapped the pic on my phone and put it on Facebook entitled 'the morning after the night before' and thanked everyone for coming to my birthday.

I honestly did not expect it to be such a big deal. Most of my friends gave me a 'lol' or a funny comment, others genuinely told me without a hint of humour that I looked like shit. 'Friends' actually messaged me asking me why I would put it on Facebook. My response was, what the hell is the big deal?? This is my face. It is not the best my face has ever looked, surprisingly, but my Facebook profile is not a modelling portfolio, it's a collection of shit I get up to and things I find funny. Which is why I also have no problem with pictures like this being on there:
Kelis June 2014

There's a quote I love in the film "About Time"; "It's not good for a girl to be too attractive, it stops her having a sense of humour." It might be that while selfies are for some, damaging to self-confidence, it's possible, for others, they are creating over-inflated egos who will ask you to take 'just one more' because they didn't look exactly right in the five other pictures you'd already taken.
Which one are you? Either way I think we should all consider the purpose behind our selfies because the only one who needs to know you look good is you. 

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