An exploration of the selfie. Why do we love taking pictures of ourselves?

Selfie-culture or Self-culture?

Selfie-culture or Self-culture?

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In lieu of the recent celebrity-naked-selfie-hacking, I am going to talk about selfies, and because it’s absolutely appropriate, I am going to include some of my past selfies as you read along.

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Selfie – a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.

 Selfie-culture or Self-culture?

The selfie has recently taken our culture by storm, but I think people struggle to understand why or how the selfie came to be. Initially, people claimed it was a display of self-assurance or self-importance, but years down the road, you see almost everyone around you taking selfies. Even those that vowed never to take a photo of themselves standing in front of a mirror now do just that. I’ve even seen my dad take a selfie. Despite all this, people can’t always explain for themselves why they participate in the selfie-culture. It’s like being possessed – You just do it – And you feel satisfied by it somehow. I think there are many different reasons people take selfies. Here are a few examples:

Admire yourself and give reason for others to admire you

Oooh, look at me. I'm purty today.

Oooh, look at me. I’m purty today.

Marketing

I love my SnoBar!! I can eat a cold treat and get hammered at the same time!

I love my SnoBar!! I can eat a cold treat and get hammered at the same time!

Share moods

I'm so freakin' happy!!!

I’m so freakin’ happy!!!

To share experiences

I've been attacked by a snake!!!

I’ve been attacked by a snake!!!

Self-expression

Selfie-culture or Self-culture?

Art & Creativity

Selfie-culture or Self-culture?

And of course, to show off your cats

Selfie-culture or Self-culture?

All of these reasons for posting selfies give way for instant interaction and open dialogue with the public. It’s a way to relate to the outside world. Overall, I feel the selfie is an outward exploration of oneself, as in, what do people think of me? How am I seen compared to others? Are there others like me? How can I share this experience with people? Through selfies, you can remove yourself from your “self” and see “you” from an outsider’s perspective. Seeing yourself through the eyes of others is interesting and fascinating to many people and selfies is a tool used to explore that.

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I know I just made a case for selfies, but I am fully aware of the scrutiny surrounding the selfie. There is this notion that our society is turning excessively narcissistic as a result of social media and selfies. This makes me ask the age-old question, which came first, the chicken or the egg?

 

In America, we really cultivate the idea of self in many ways. Growing up in school I remember always getting the opportunity to decorate my desk, or my cubby, or binder, and to make it my own. There were entire days spent on creating things that represented who I was. There were art projects dedicated to expressing who I was as an individual – Art projects that were posted on the walls of the school so I could bring my parents and friends in, point to the art, and say, “Look! That’s me!” Even my bedroom wasn’t just a place to sleep, but also a place to define myself – I had painted walls, posters, and other characterizing things that made the room me. Even now, when I buy a car, I say things to myself like, “Which one is most like me?” It might seem strange to claim that something like decorating your locker in junior high gave any impetus to the selfie you just took, but all our lives we have learned to utilize the things we own and our space to express who we are.

 

The marketing industry is very aware of how much our culture values individuality. Advertisements often have the underlying message of What’s your style? Which one is you? Stand-out, Be yourself, I could go on. Many products are made to be personalized to the individual in some way, whether it’s different colors, different styles of clothing, or different personalities. – These are all ways someone can define themselves as a consumer. I imagine, in some other countries, the idea of owning anything that is personalized to you in some way or the idea of creating an entire space dedicated to yourself and your own personality is absurd. In America, we own hot pink blenders and cars that scream your personality with bumper stickers that say “I’m a big hippy” or “Honk if you like cheese” and then line the back seat with Beanie Babies. There are video games that simulate designing your own wardrobe, and you can actually win this game. We pay people to help us be individuals whether through clothing or home decor, and we buy dogs that look like ourselves. Individualism and self-expression are very strong ideologies in America.

 

I’m not claiming that our self-culture is either good or bad – I’m just expressing that when you look back and see how much we’ve been conditioned to express our selves as individuals, it’s no surprise that we have found a new platform to express how we identify ourselves. The Internet is such a grander scale than anything we’ve had available to us before, and people love using it to say to the world, “This is who I am.” Ultimately, we haven’t become narcissistic. – We’ve just discovered a better way of being so.

 

-XO Chanel

 

 

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18 thoughts on “Selfie-culture or Self-culture?

  1. Esperanza says:

    Chanel, I am hot for a “bi-guy” who I have been boinking since last summer. He lives with another man, who he claims he loves, but they apparently don’t play “hide the salami” in each other dirt boxes, or so he tells me. He’s an old guy, but he turns my hot buttons on, even though he’s a fruit, but sometimes I wonder if he’s just been gay-for-pay all along with his “man’friend”. I want a rock on my finger and a commitment, so my bi-guy lover can make some children with me, after all my biological clock is ticking. Should I just wipe flush and move on? The car sex and seedy hotels is becoming stale, and we are both worried we will be spotted by co-workers when we do the deed in my car, or at the raunchy, roach infected motels he bangs me in.

  2. Crazy Phil says:

    Well I’m officially dating a new fox from Frisco. She’s of Asian descent with a killer tan body, smokin’ legs and a nice new pair of bolt-on’s! Pinch me, I must be dreaaming!, sadly her firm bronzed chest looks scrumptious and all, but fake chi-chi’s are too hard, just too firm! Oh well, she has a gorgeous face also, reminds me of a sexier version of asa akira, more bronzed.

  3. Purpura es Bueno says:

    Chanel you look awesome in purple. Just scintillating! Purple heels and a skin tight purple dress, just gorgeous you doll. Have a super leap day!

  4. Cisco Kid says:

    This is a super blog! Chanel you are a total babe! Keep up the great work by challenging us all to grow. You are a very special lady.

  5. Legs Diamond says:

    I dated a woman from USC, a psychologist in fact. She was smokin’ hot, with Killer bronzed legs and calves that “popped”, when she wore smokin six inch heels. I took her to Farmers Market and watched guys walk into walls as they scoped out her righteous gams! Totally fried my brain stem, watching her walk, swaying that million dollar butt and tossing those curly black locks around, turned me to stone man! Anyhow, she posted some red hot pics on the net, from her i-phone, and believe me, did she get a lot of feedback! One shot has her covered in cocoa butter in her orange bikini, soaking up the rays in Fort Lauderdale, with yours truly. Guess what I am the lucky dude who got to coat her in oil from her gorgeous head to her sweet, sexy little pedicured toes. VAROOOOOM!

  6. buddhaislaughing says:

    The Culture of “selfie”, is an outgrowth of narcissism…a launching pag into “malignant self-love”. Today’s society is saturated with the notion, that “we all” need to be beautiful, valued, admired, and even a source of primary narcissism, for those not as attractive, smart, or wealthy. Alfred Adler called it, when he developed the notion of “stratification” in our society… people become depressed due to the realization their neighbor has more money, a prettier wife, a more prestigious vocation, etc. etc. I worked with a woman, quite stunning in fact, who had a picture of herself on her i-phone, nude, freshly shaved and bronzed, with a sausage betwixt her legs! This was a big-time status symbol for her, to reveal her wanton self to men, in fact, she delighted in making men jealous of her, as she displayed herself opened up, and being lustfully ravaged! A buddy of mine couldn’t stop talking about this phone shot, it poisoned his mind, and left a very unhealthy, indelible impression in his head. His hang-up was jealousy, he wanted her, wanted her desperately… I couldn’t care less, and this really burned her up…when I would talk to other women during Karaoke, she would smolder, steam was seen pouring out of her ears. She didn’t “really” desire me, but she was bitter because “I” spurned her, and was completely apathetic who she “boffed” and plastered on her i-phone. The wheel turned, I was in command.

  7. Rick says:

    Sure, there are those for whom social media is a godsend professionally (actual LOL on the Snobar) and your comments on the artistic outlet are undoubtedly good ones … but I still wonder how much of this is part of the “participation trophy” culture we seem to have these days. Used to be that you got your significance in a body of work, the family you raised, your reputation for integrity. These things don’t seem to be as significant any more and I think we’re worse off for it.

  8. Diego Jose Ramirez Fajardo says:

    This is really good page to get to know your thoughts (that’s what really matters). I found it today, and i’m having a good time reading a great part of it. Keep up the good work! On this specific subject, I’ve read some news in my country (Colombia) about a series of studies that state taking selfies might show lack of self esteem. Do you have any comments about this? Thank you in advance for taking your time for reading this.

    • Chanel Preston says:

      Hi there, I’m happy you’re enjoying the site! As for the low esteem, I’m sure that some people who take selfies have a lack of self-esteem, but this doesn’t mean everyone who takes selfies has a lack of self-esteem. The selfie has definitely become a trend. Therefore, a lot of people are simply responding to a social craze.

  9. Terry says:

    I’ve lived in Asia for the past 6 years and the selfie craze is probably on a grander scale here. Lot of girls have the selfie-stick and taking a selfie is pretty much the first thing they do at the gym, restaurant, or nightclub. There’s some research that talked about the dopamine release people can get when friends like or comment on a photo and how addictive it can get.

    But with everyone being anonymous and drowned out on the internet, it’s a way of saying “this is me” (as you pointed out), and the likes/comments help remove that loneliness with some validation. I wouldn’t be surprised if the folks that are outlier selfie addicts w/ multiple photos per day have pretty boring lives, as it takes a lot of time and effort to keep taking these shots, finding a nice one, adding a filter, and finally posting it.

    Because if you were already so busy with life and have fun things to do, who has time for that every day?

  10. Silent Mutation says:

    I agree that TAKING selfie is highly relevant to self-esteem, while I also think that POSTING a selfie has something to do with craving for attention from the outside world. Unique from the other ways of defining oneself, such as art project, bedroom and car, a selfie allows for massive publicity. In a society that each of us work hard to get our own self-identities, people usually do not pay much attention to one another’s self identity, as long as it does not get into our way (in a good or bad way). A selfie serves as a great way to get the attention. Down the road, doesn’t appreciation from others increase the meaning of self-identity to different degrees (even if some people may say that they live all for themselves??

  11. massimiliano says:

    you mean this
    I’m sorry if I have explained myself badly
    because of you
    and good weekend
    THANKS TO EXIST

  12. Scottish Dave says:

    Interesting Blog as ever.

    I think you make a good point with the chicken and egg argument. For me it seems that new technology is often blamed as generating new behaviours such as the selfie. I agree that the core reasons behind the new craze are ones that can be traced back further. As you point out all that the new technology gives us is another avenue to manifest this older behavioural pattern.

    You touched on the notion of American customization as a means of expressing ones self identity, as a Scotsman I can see the validity of this but also it strikes me as another level of consumerism which is also associated with Americans. Again it could be a chicken an egg scenario, or a by product on the size of the Population in America, but on the times I have visited the States I was struck with the myriad options of your products when compared to the comparatively minuscule selection available in my homeland. As an outsider it would seem enough that you have all these options to choose from, so the added customisation can appear excessive to an outsider. But I suppose when you consider how exponentially bigger the States are it does make some sense that even given the wider selection some still feel the need to customize.

    Perhaps this is behind the popularity of the selfie it a means of total customisation of our image in a social media world. To expand on your point of the selfie being a tool to “see “you” from an outsider’s perspective” I would add that it can be used as a form of control as well. We dictate how we appear in the selfie, from taking many and using the best one, to applying filters etc. Although social media sites offer tools to customise your own page, for the most part they are a standard set of options, variations on a theme. The selfie is a form of creativity which you can have complete control over and that may be behind it’s popularity.

    I find the notion of the idea of Self fascinating having a background in Marketing and currently working in Psychology. How do we define who we are? The brands we wear and possess?, our job?, our family?, our body type?, our actions?, our beliefs?, our sexuality? When introducing ourselves to someone new how do we describe and identify ourselves? Context is obviously vitally important, but then does that mean that who we are is governed by context? I feel we often struggle to truly define who we are, perhaps the rise of the popularity of the selfie is linked to this in that it can be a visual shorthand for many of the above ways we express who we are. Perhaps its an evolutionary response to the increasingly disembodied/non face to face means by which we communicate. Maybe it is the case that in a digital world we face a greater struggle with the idea of who we really are and selfie serves as a reminder of the one, more or less constant, thing that have, our face.

    • Chanel Preston says:

      I love hearing from an outsider’s perspective. I love what you said about customizing your image and controlling how the world sees you. This is interesting and something I will probably think more about.

      • Scottish Dave says:

        Good, glad you liked my comments, you keep writing them and I’ll keep commenting.

        To be honest I don’t really know how much of an “outsider” I am though what with Globalisation and the Internet making the world a “smaller place” Do you think that nationality plays a major part in our sexuality? You state that your Blog is “addressing social issues surrounding sexuality in America”, however I find all the content easy to relate to and applicable to me. Of course that could be because of the cultural transferability and shared heritage between the United Kingdom and America.

        I seem to recall you saying on Twitter that you were going to Canada and Spain soon. Perhaps this would be a good opportunity to do a feature (I’m still pushing for podcast) for your blog on the impact of our Nationality on our Sexuality.

        • Chanel Preston says:

          I have thought about doing segments in other places. I was in Egypt last year and wanted to do something there but never got a chance to. Despite the fact that the site addresses sexuality in America, I’m sure it relates to a lot of western cultures. I’m not opposed to branching out though. Maybe in the future. Unfortunately, I will be working the entire time in both Canada and Spain so won’t get a chance to do any Naked With Chanel work this time around.

  13. massimiliano says:

    I also think like you, you’re a real person and I like ’cause you say what you think
    But how do I enroll in this blog?

    • Chanel Preston says:

      Thank you :) And what do you mean by enrolling in the blog? Do you mean be notified when I post or actually participate in the blogging?

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