Everywhere I go nowadays I see teens, twenty-somethings and tourists unabashedly snapping selfies like their lives depend on it. On hikes I see singles wandering along the trails, holding selfie sticks like self-guided leashes and chattering aloud to themselves. When I exit bathroom stalls at restaurants, I see young girls flipping their hair and pouting in the mirror as they snap quick bathroom selfies before returning to their tables, as if the act were as natural as washing their hands. There are businesses right here in my city that are completely designed around society’s love for taking selfies, and there’s even a song about it.
I know I probably sound old, because for many, selfies have always just been a part of everyday life. But I remember a time when we had to buy rolls of film, carefully insert them into our cameras, and wait for a week before unveiling the photos that we had taken through printed photographs. Back in those days, we did what we called “hold up” photos, but the intentions weren’t the same. We turned the camera around and snapped photos to capture us in the moment, having fun with our friends. I don’t remember ever sitting alone turning the camera on myself and snapping a pic, or bringing my camera into the bathroom and pouting into the mirror for a picture.
I’m not going to lie, I snap a quick selfie from time to time too. I love social media and sometimes, you’ve gotta make an appearance in your feed! But for some reason, when I pull out my phone and turn the lens on myself, I get completely embarrassed. I feel as though I’m peeing in public, or taking off my top. Everyone else seems unfased when they snap selfies, so why does the act make me feel so awkwardly bashful?
Maybe it’s a generational thing. Maybe it’s because I remember a time when we would have mocked the act of selfie-taking – a time when we would have pointed our fingers laughing and said look at that arrogant girl over there, flipping her hair and squinting into the camera like she’s her own personal paparazzo.
But today, selfies are ubiquitous. So I will adjust, and hopefully my feelings of embarrassment will subside.