Unpolished 'selfies' a picture of our time

Phone cameras make it simple to say 'look at me!'
2013-06-26T00:00:00Z Unpolished 'selfies' a picture of our timeThe Associated Press The Associated Press
June 26, 2013 12:00 am  • 

NEW YORK - In these hyper-connected, over-shared times dwell two kinds of people: those preoccupied with taking and uploading photos of themselves and those who have never heard of the selfie.

The raunchy, goofy, poignant, sexy or drunken self-portrait has been a common sight since phone camera met social media. Now, nearly a decade since the arm-extended or in-the-mirror photos became a mainstay of MySpace - duck face or otherwise - selfies are a pastime across generations and cultures.

Justin Bieber puts up plenty with his shirt off and Rihanna poses for sultry snaps, but a beaming Hillary Clinton recently took a turn with daughter Chelsea, who tweeted their happy first attempt with the hashtag #ProudDaughter.

Two other famous daughters, Sasha and Malia Obama, selfied at dad's second inauguration, pulling faces in front of a smartphone. And Japanese astronaut Aki Hoshide earned a spot in the Selfie Hall of Fame with a striking, otherworldly shot, arms extended as reflected in his helmet outside the International Space Station last year.

"It just comes so naturally after a point," said Elizabeth Zamora, a 24-year-old marketing account coordinator in Dallas who has taken hundreds of selfies since she got her first iPhone two years ago, with the front-facing camera that has become the selfie gold standard.

"You just take it and you don't even realize it and then you're sharing it with all your friends," she said. "I try not to go crazy."

If we're not taking them, we're certainly looking, regardless of whether we know what they're called. We're lurking on the selfies of our teens, enjoying the high jinks of co-workers and friends and mooning over celebrities, who have fast learned the marketing value - and scandalous dangers - of capturing their more intimate, unpolished selves.

The practice of freezing and sharing our thinnest slices of life has become so popular that the granddaddy of dictionaries, the Oxford, is monitoring the term selfie as a possible addition. Time magazine included the selfie in its Top 10 buzzwords of 2012 (at No. 9).

On Instagram alone, there's #selfiesunday, along with related tags where millions of selfies land daily.

More than 23 million photos have been uploaded to the app with the tag #selfie, and about 70 million photos clog Instagram's #me.

Beverly Hills psychiatrist Carole Lieberman sees narcissism with a capital N. "The rise of the selfie is a perfect metaphor for our increasingly narcissistic culture. We're desperately crying out: Look at me!"

Self-portraits tagged as 'selfie' first surfaced on Flickr, a photo-sharing site, and on MySpace in 2004, said Pamela Rutledge, director of the nonprofit Media Psychology Research Center, which explores how humans interact with technology. The earliest reference in the Urban Dictionary was to "selfy" in 2005.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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