October 9, 2013

Jaslyn McCarthy

We all do it, no matter what age or generation everyone takes a sneaky selfie from time to time. In simpler terms, a selfie is defined in the online Oxford Dictionary as “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.” But why do we feel the need to take a snapshot of our own reflection, post it online, share it with the world and then deny how attractive we look in it? Are we really that self-centred and such a denialist species?

We all know it is very rare for somebody to post a photo of themselves and admit how aesthetically pleasing it is to the human eye–as if one was to do this, they would be defined as a complete and utter tool–but why? We all have our own unique qualities that make us who we are physically, so why would it be so terrible to admit we like ourselves? I like to think of websites such as Facebook as a place that is home to an ‘online cold war’.  An online cold war is where everybody is trying to outdo one other silently by raking in more likes than each other. This is simply the main goal of some people’s teenage lives, sad isn’t it? Maybe if we were more cynical we could search deeper within the deep souls of most teenagers and find some explanation behind this selfie taking era.

Before you think that all selfies are the same, may I remind you they are not. I’ll have you know there are different styles of selfies. There is the ‘pouting’ selfie where a person, most likely female, is pouting her lips in a manner that creates the illusion of her to look like some sort of duck called the ‘duck face’, this is the most popular feminine kind. But coming closely to that, there is the good old ‘I didn’t mean to show half my body in the naked flesh but I just did’ selfie. These pictures are very common in girls aged 14-18 and typically get a lot more likes than just a portrait of the facial region—I wonder why.

An innocent selfie can very quickly turn a very dangerous corner into child pornography if fallen into the wrong set of hands. I don’t believe I need to give a definition of child pornography as you would think we would know it when we see it, but many of us don’t. Many of us don’t know it when we see it and just accept it as a normal selfie. Most of the time, we don’t know where to draw the line. For example, showing that little bit too much of cleavage can be classed as child pornography if you are aged under 18 or even wearing an explicit swim suit. Many of the parents of the children who take these photos are un-aware of the content that their little angel is putting up online. You may be saying, ‘no girls just put up naked photos of themselves on Facebook.’ But the thing is, you don’t have to be naked for it to be considered pornography. If it is suggestive enough and gets over 400 likes, it is probably child pornography.

Putting the negatives aside, selfies can be beneficial to the human race. For example, how else are we going to remember the time we met our favourite celebrity without taking a quick snap of ourselves with them. Travelling by ourselves is very common these days, so what do we do when we want to take a picture of ourselves with the Statue of Liberty right behind us? We pull our device out of our pockets and take a selfie.

To conclude this bitter-sweet topic, the good old selfie has its pros and cons. We all have our thoughts and opinions on them and hopefully know when taking too many photos of your own beautiful self is enough. Welcome to the 21st century, where posting photos of yourself on social media is okay but then, thinking you look good in them is not. It’s a hard life being a part of the youth of today.

– Jaslyn McCarthy

– Photo by Amy Steele

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