We are legend: The “Selfie” has become the ditchweed of popular culture.
April 14, 2014
Sometimes I take pictures of myself post them online. I know a lot of other people do, too. Selfies. We all do it. So much so it has become a phenomenon. In 2013, Selfie was deemed word of the year. Ahead of “Twerk.”
Since the beginning of photography –hell, painting…even cave painting- we have all been interested in how we look in pictures. Very interested. That is why when you view a group photo and you are in it you always check yourself out first. “I look like crap,” you sometimes say. Or, “I hate when I make that face.” If you think you look good –a win- then and only then you might say something about someone else in the photograph. “You look hot, Katie!” Then Katie will say, “I think I look like crap.”
And so it goes. We are all narcissists. We want to be awesome looking. We obsess over it. Even people who say they don’t do. Pictures don’t lie (not counting Photoshop). They are worth a thousand words. Or were. When photos themselves were relatively rare they had a certain value. Now they are as common as words and far more popular. Thank you digital photography. And Snapchat. And Instagram. Millions of photos are taken every day. Every hour. Perhaps billions. Frankly, one does not have to ever take a photo of anything in order to find visual documentation of it. Just ask Google. Boom. There it is.
We are the one exception. We are evergreen. The advent of the Selfie was inevitable. For we never get tired of seeing pictures of ourselves. Better said we have become addicted to them. In our desire to feed our narcissism, in a world of digital photography, it has become pure mania. Quantity has trumped quality. More me, we clamor. From the endless updates we post on Facebook to the galleries we create, we have become a Selfie society!
Guess what? the more we create the weaker it gets and the more we need. And so the Selfie has become the ditch weed of popular culture. We are like the junkie chasing a high and never quite getting there.
The ultimate narcissists, celebrities have latched onto the mania, taking Selfie after Selfie knowing they will go viral. Viral equals popularity equals giving a damn. Ellen at the Oscars. Kanye everywhere. Even the President of the United States!
Marketers falsely assume that a Selfies’ social currency equals sales. They mistake the image as saying something about them. A Kardashian is wearing a dress. Therefore it an ad for the dress. Free advertising! Samsung thought Ellen’s much-shared Oscar Selfie was an ad for the camera. Insanity. For that is like saying the addict values his needle.
Will it end? No. But the insane value placed upon the Selfie will. In particular the value placed upon the Selfies taken by others. We will revert back to our narcissism and only care about Selfies of ourselves. Knowing deep down no one else will and not much giving a shit one way or the other. Advertisers will chase the high longer than most, clamoring for the buzz, sucking on ditch weed and wondering why they aren’t getting high. Vines and the like will suffer a similar fate, if they haven’t already. Of course these marketers will first blame their dealers: the experts and gurus (internal and external) that fed their mania. Then they will clean house, “rethinking marketing strategy.”
Alas, the rehab won’t last. Some idiot will sprout two heads and take a picture of it. The “Freakie” will be born and we will chase after it. And in turn the marketers will chase after us. The circle of life, such as it it.