Cath Jenkin

Defending the Self(ie)

It’s been written about before, many a time, but I’d like to take an alternate view on that snap happy habit of taking a picture of yourself. You may call it narcissism but I have a different view. Heck, Kim Kardashian West published an entire book of her own, so why don’t we just pay attention to our own ones for a while?

Drop The Guilt
Snapping a selfie has two primary objectives – one, to capture how you’re feeling at that exact moment (it’s usually when you’re feeling good about yourself) and two, to communicate that, in some way, to the world. I’m pretty certain that every self help book out there, and every motivational speaker’s call sheet, underlines the importance of feeling good about yourself, or having positive thoughts towards your own person. So then, how could snapping a selfie be a bad thing?

I’m Not Talking About Duckface
Let’s be clear on one thing – the era of the forced duckface is fading and, thank goodness for that. It’s now used a little more ironically by most people, although it’s still favoured by a few celebrity types or wannabe celebrity types. Nowadays, if you take a scroll through your Instagram feed, there is a lot less duckface, and a little more honesty. The #nofilter way of life is also rather refreshing and, if you’ve noticed anything about the evolution of selfies, you’ll see that we’re moving closer to being a little more honest online through our selfies. This also makes it a little easier to be more honest online – as more and more people start pulling back that veneer of perfectly placed ornaments.

Parenting
If you’ve ever tried to wrangle your children towards creating a great family picture, you already know what I’m about to tell you: selfies are the easiest way to take pictures with your children. Bonus part, of course, is that parents are no longer behind the camera, capturing their children’s adventures, but selfies make it easier for parents to be present in the picture too, thereby sealing a memory that their children will be able to keep with them forever. Easily making keepsakes for your children? Chalk another one up to selfies.

Emoji Replacements
If we’re living in the age of the selfie right now, there’s something that came before it – the emoticon and its cousin, the emoji. If you know me personally though, you know that I’ve been replacing those with pictures of my own face when we’re chatting on WhatsApp or through other mediums. It happened by accident, to be honest, as I began lampooning someone’s expressions in a conversation with friends. Since then, I’ve adopted it as far as possible in my mobile conversations. I’ve got two reasons for doing this – firstly, it’s a touch more personal when communicating, because instead of communicating through lines of text and the occasional technicolour-tiny-picture, my friends are reminded that they’re really talking to a person. Receiving a selfie back is always a kick for me, as it serves to remind me that I’m talking to an actual person, and the connection during that conversation feels deeper. We are humans, conversing after all. The second reason is: frankly, there is no suitable, made-by-some-company, image for the way I feel at 11am, when the power goes out, I’ve forgotten to have breakfast and am on deadline. But if you ask my friends to tell you what that looks like, they’ll probably have a gallery of pictures to illustrate it.

After all, aren’t we just here for the pictures, anyway?

 

Tags: , , ,

  • Technocratic culture: ‘Disconnect’
  • The world has become an uncertain and ugly place
  • The Ntokozo Qwabe Ashleigh Schultz affair: Notes for a screenplay
  • Why we need a politics of ‘spirit’ not consumption