The Selfie

The idea of the selfie had been introduced in the history of photography by Robert Cornelius whose first ever self-portrait (which he took of himself) was taken in 1839. Contrary to what many might think, the selfie isn’t quite recent; it’s naming as a “selfie” began in 2002 when a drunken Australian guy described the picture he had taken of himself. In 2004, the hashtag #selfie emerged but it wasn’t until around 2012 that it had really spread all over social media.

In effect, the selfie is a photograph that is notable for its immediacy; however, “once anything enters digital space, it instantly becomes part of the infrastructure of the digital superpublic, outliving the time and place in which it was original produced, viewed, or circulated.” It also sends messages which are transmitted to different audiences as feelings which form relationships with other people. (Baym & Senft,2015, pp.1588) What a selfie really says about the person becomes out of that person’s control once the selfie is posted online; and that has inevitably raised moral panics in society.

On the surface, this panic seems to be a fear of teens becoming narcissistic. The true, subliminal fear however is the ability the selfie gives an individual to widely alter his or her identity most distinctly in the form of stepping out of conservative rules for instance. As was discussed in class, the expression of a new technology as a pathology is what increases this manifestation as a panic.

In a way, the selfie is a tool through which every individual expresses, edits, and re-creates one; thus arises the matter of performance. In a sociological context for performance, according to Erving Goffman, “daily interactions are compared to a theatrical experience in which individuals perform an identity by giving off expressions which control others’ responses.” (Goffman,1959)

Associated with the selfie are both risks and benefits, based on my research. Among its shortcomings, the selfie indisputably has in a way devalued some occasions like proposals, birthday surprises or even newborn babies; the element off immediacy of the selfie somehow reduces ‘the moment’ in which things happen. Also, there’s the worry that some selfie-takers develop with regard to what people might say about this particular selfie, so it is a form of insecurity.

On the other hand, the selfie’s benefits are also remarkable. The group selfie has allowed people to come together; have you ever heard someone say ‘let’s take a selfie’ without the entire population present jumping in to be included?

Furthermore, it has been facilitated by several tools like snapchat and vine which are straight to the point and quite representative.

To conclude, the selfie has undoubtedly become widespread almost everywhere by almost everyone. Just like any other technological phenomenon, it has both advantages as well as drawbacks, so it is essential to be aware, careful, and prudent rather than paranoid. Indulge yourself with its perks but stay true to your morals and beliefs.


Goffman, E. (1959). Presentation of self in everyday life. Carden City, NY: Double Day

Selfie is Oxford Dictionaries’ word of the year. (n.d.). Retrieved November 6, 2015, from

Senft, T., & Baym, N. (2015). Introduction. In What Does the Selfie Say? Investigating a Global Phenomenon. International Journal of Communication.

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