To selfie or not to selfie

How, some may ask, could you muddy Hamlet’s soliloquy in such a heinous way? Well I have your attention so here I go.

The selfie’s prize of ‘word of the year’ by the OED came as a shock to most people. With millions of duck faces clogging up our data packages we can all understand why; a quick search of google will spew out list after list of truly terrible selfie pics. These over exposed pictures of generally, over exposed teens, are in no way an asset to society. They perpetuate narcissism, gender stereotypes, and a multitude of ‘Blurred Lines’ type offences. Their presence has turned us from productive, food-instagramming robots into pouty monsters… Or is this really the case?

National #selfie portrait gallery

Paul Outlaw and Jen Catron’s selfie for the National #Selfie Portrait Gallery

Selfies are technically art

At a basic level the selfie is a portrait. Portraiture as an art form has been around for thousands of years with ancient Egyptians plastering their faces on temples, homes anything really. Beginning with the wealthy it eventually trickled down to the middle class and from there, became common place. As upright monkeys we’ve been making selfies for years, perhaps to remember a loved one, or ensure we ourselves are remembered. Whatever the case portraiture is ingrained in our very psyches so the first order of business is get used to it because no amount of internet trolling is going to stop this behemoth.

 Use your selfies for good

While the selfie seems an impossible force careening towards us perhaps we can find a way to ride it to the shore. For the last two years the 3rd of December has come to be known internationally as ‘GivingTuesday’. One day in the year where internet users are obliged to provide an unselfie of themselves holding a card or paper in front of their face with an organisation or cause that is deserving of your bandwidth and your time. Now that is something I could get behind; a tasteful and helpful middle finger to the selfie abusers. This initiative is gaining momentum as companies and municipal boards push to raise thousands for various organisations and causes. It seems the offspring of the much maligned selfie may still bear fruit.

Selfie in space

International Space Station astronaut Aki Hoshide takes a picture in space


If not for others, do it for yourself. Noah Berlatzky’s article is a testament to the selfie as art especially for marginalised people. As statements of family values, feminist empowering or individual choices these little snapshots have the power to convey your fears, loves and thoughts to the world we live in.

In conclusion, the Cold War brought us technological advancement, mould brought us penicillin, so why not let the selfie bring us a chance to communicate, to make a statement, “perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub.”


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