By Rachel Syme
Hi. Do you have a selfie?
I’m not talking about a picture of yourself, that you took yourself, by yourself, though that is technically the textbook definition of the word. I’m asking about your “selfie”: a virtual doppelgänger that looks like you, has been everywhere you have been, has smiled every time you smiled, and was created by you, but then flies off to have adventures without you. The selfie is an imprint of yourself, tossed into a virtual ocean, flying forward into the future to meet the stares of people you will never know.
I wrote a short book about selfies for Matter.
Or rather, I wrote seven chapters (one with the help of several kind strangers) and bound them together into this piece that explores the history of selfies, the many ways we represent ourselves online, and the real dangers and giddy joys that tossing our faces into the feed can bring.
I am fascinated by selfies. I started taking snaps with my laptop camera about 10 years ago and have continued since, but it was only last year, after seeing how much the practice has exploded, that I started thinking about what our selfies mean, and what they can do, both for us and for our culture. As selfies multiply exponentially, so does their radical potential to create new ways of seeing and effect change.
Selfies are teaching tools, death masks, magic mirrors, and nods to history.
I love faces, and I would love to see yours. I am still collecting selfies for the Sea of Faces project, and I would be honored if you would share a selfie and a story in the responses to the piece, here. I cannot wait to meet your gaze and hear what your picture means to you.