Thursday, 2 June 2016


The selfie is viewed as being symptomatic of the negative influence social media has on our lives and our self-portrayed images. There is also no doubt that selfies trigger our curiosity because they are both ubiquitous and admittedly morally questionable. They are largely associated with young females searching for social approval but they can be observed on all walks of life, from president Obama and Pope Francis to Kim Kardashian and Justin Bieber. Most of us have taken a selfie, although we may, or may not have posted them on social media.

Apparently there are various types of selfies and some of them are more acceptable than others. Thus, group selfies are more acceptable than individual ones, female selfies are more customary than male selfies, outdoors are better than indoors, selfies “for a cause” or “with a purpose” are more acceptable than “show-off” persistent selfies.

There exists an incredible array of selfie genres that have emerged: belfie (bottom selfie), the relfie (relationship selfie), the helfie (hair selfie), the welfie (workout selfie) and the felfie (farmer selfie). Most commonly, selfies are made from rather strange angles, they are taken at an arm’s length so they implicitly cut out one of the arms of the author (if not both of them), they are rarely centered correctly and are most generally taken with a smartphone. Last, but not least, they have to be put out there to become selfies. If they are not shared, they are not selfies.  

Taking selfies is therefore a solitary endeavor that people presumably take up so as to take control over their self-portrayal. The increasingly advanced technology we have at our disposal in our mobile devices and the apps that come along with them, allow people to experiment, to take as many shots as they want and therefore to perfect their knowledge and skills of self-portrayal. Nevertheless, there are plenty of reasons or meanings selfies could have for various people or circumstances. 

Here are ten types of selfies I came up with:

  1. The “experimenting” selfie – most commonly happening to women who have a good hair day and find themselves in a moment of loneliness or sheer boredom. They start taking pictures of themselves, use filters on Instagram or other feature enhancing apps, and, they come up with an unexpectedly good portrayal of themselves. Why not share it with others?
  2. The “naive” selfie – again, mainly young females fall for this type. They generally symbol a cry for attention and validation. And indeed, young people tend to define themselves based on the opinion of their peers.
  3. The "status-quo" selfie -  is the selfie that adds up to the already constructed social media persona. In this case we are generally dealing with people who benefit or work towards building a social media branding for themselves. They might have any kind of public interest or notoriety, and selfies are a handy way to consolidate their construed image . 
  4. The selfie "with a story" - People generally like self-taken shots as long as they have a compelling story behind it. Either that the story is told through the selfie itself or aside from the selfie, it has to be there to gain viewership. Needless to say that some of the stories are more legitimate than others, but there is nothing worse than seeing self-loading persistent posts of someone’s selfies. In conclusion, what we blame are not selfies themselves but the lack of a meaningful story to accompany it.
    Cindy Crowford in the social media campaign No Makeup 
  5. The "artful" selfie - there is a myriad of artists that have taken the selfie to another level, and I am not talking only of photographers. Take for example the @mirrorsme Instagram account where an attractive blond female successfully publishes mirror selfies, but makes them interesting by drawing doodles on her mirror. 
  6. The "collective" selfie - is not as disregarded as individual selfies, and some argue it is only taking advantage of front cameras on mobile phones. There is no reason to leave one person out of the frame, right?
  7. The "event" selfie - generally taken in public places, crowded. They have to be cool events, cool spaces and they stand testimony for someone being there and fitting in.
  8. The "humorous" selfies - there are plenty of goofy and humorous selfies out there.
    People might use add-ons or context to become humorous and because they are playful they generally receive positive feedback. The main issue is for the person to appear consistent with the goofiness of the image.
  9.  The "adventurous" selfie - reportedly people have lost lives trying to take spectacular selfies, but they do it anyway. Apparently, virality on social media is the new opium. 
  10. The "scenery" selfie - many pictures of beautiful natural or anthropic scenery have a face or two sticking out. That is because most people prefer to look at photography that includes people, rather than still nature. It is also a way of authenticating the natural occurrence of the backdrop; meaning, if we are in the picture we have witnessed this impressive scenery, so it is authentic. 

I am sure there are plenty other types of selfies. What do you think? Is selfie a bad thing after all? I will try to expand on this in another post.

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