Selfies. They generate strong emotions. Some love them. Some don’t.
Like it or not, as expected, there was an abundance of celebrity selfies and glamourous photos streaming on social media many hours before and after last night’s 2015 Oscars took place.
It was Oprah’s photo of herself with partner Stedman Graham announcing on Facebook: “On our way to the red carpet…see you there. #Oscars” that got my attention and reminded me to start tuning in.
Meanwhile, Reese Witherspoon took to Instagram to share text messages she received from her mother while getting ready for the big night:
Here’s Lisa Rinna giving a glimpse of her Oscar night look:
At the award show, Jennifer Lopez could not resist a selfie with Meryl Streep:
And John Legend and wife Chrissy Teigen, about to spend their first night with Oscar, said goodnight to the whole world with this:
Both the celebrated and the obscure participate in what has become a global phenomenon commonly known as the “selfie.” In more extreme cases, “selfies” become an affliction identified as “selfitis” which, by definition, is the inflammation of one’s ego as evidenced by taking too many “selfies.” Made possible by the ease with which so many can take photographs of themselves and share them with an audience of many millions instantaneously, this phenomenon can be regarded as a natural evolution in the history of self-portrait photography and technical innovation resulting in the accessibility of the medium. However, the immediacy of creating and distributing these images has in some ways made the medium common, cheap, and even narcissistic.
So do selfies simply reflect (after all, it has been in existence for some time) or do they promote a growing narcissism in our contemporary culture?
Jenna Wortham, a technology reporter and columnist for the New York Times, gives a rather forgiving explanation. She offers that selfies are a new way of representing ourselves to others and of communicating with one another through images: “Rather than dismissing the trend as a side effect of digital culture or a sad form of exhibitionism, maybe we’re better off seeing selfies for what they are at their best — a kind of visual diary, a way to mark our short existence and hold it up to others as proof that we were here. The rest, of course, is open to interpretation.” In other words, selfies are validating and transformative – the ordinary is a celebrity.