The selfie way of life

Love them, hate them, take them anyway.

Dear Hipster:

Why doesn’t hating selfies seem to do any good? It seems like everybody hates them, but there’s no evidence to suggest that selfie-taking is anything but on the rise. How is that even possible?

— Donny, Bonita

I’ll sum up the opinions of you, and anyone else, on selfies. Pick two of the following:

  1. They suck.
  2. I take them.
  3. They’re just a way of life these days.

Most selfie-haters probably experimented with their own Instagram self-portraiture, only to find the rewards meager and unsatisfactory. For it’s true that selfie culture lacks merit. Selfies might even be outright bad for us, as various smart people have argued. A very sciencey paper from some British professors demonstrates, using much polling, that people who take wicked selfies alienate themselves from their friends, who regard the selfie-taker as obnoxiously selfie-centered. One Jezebel columnist compellingly states that selfies are “a cry for help” from women seeking digital affirmation. PBS Idea Channel claims that selfies are a “new form of communication” in the digital age.

If there’s one thing we hipsters understand, it’s being “over it” with trendy things, and selfies are the trend of trends. Hipsters drove the initial popularity of the selfie, and we were among the first to revile it. But the haters are the minority, albeit a vocal one, and plenty of people love selfies for the same reason that a huge population watches TV shows like Dancing with the Stars, eats at the Olive Garden, or listens to cheesy pop music; selfies are a low-culture phenomenon open to anyone with a phone. The crazy thing is that they will go away, as do all things (e.g., pagers, fax machines, bicycle messengers, and any other obsolete communications tool). I’m sure the next social fad will be much more likeable.

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Two things - First: the idea of there even being a PBS Idea Channel is hysterical. I haven't seen a cogent idea on our local PBS for decades. There is a fantastic article in the Oct 2014 issue of Harper's Magazine ("PBS Self-Destructs). Must read.

Second: I recently read or watched a smirking take-down about how TV media desk-jockeys are referring to photos that they show as "selfies" when they are NOT selfies. I had noticed that, and you can understand the desperation of TV media folks, trying to be hip, wanting to capture an audience of the (dumb) hip, and not knowing/caring that the whole selfie thing is/was idiotic and over, over, over.

PBS Idea Channel is a fantastic YouTube show:

Fitting that it's online, I suppose. His treatment of most subjects is cursory, but very sharp. Check the one about Bronies and masculinity.

NP. prolly one of the coolest things on YouTube, after Epic Meal Time, obvi.

Anyways, I am trying to sit down and read that same article, as we just got that Harper's in my house.

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