2013: The year of the selfie

You’ve only just woken up from a deep, year-long slumber and the whole world is a selfie nut.

If you’ve only just woken up from a deep slumber lasting the entire year and are pretty disturbed to see a deluge of pictures of people with a pout on their face on your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, fret not. We’re here to help you decode the selfie mania.

Very simply put, a selfie is a self-clicked image. Thanks to front-facing cameras on phones and some wacky ideas with cameras, people have discovered the joys of capturing their own images, rather than depending on someone else to snap it for them. What may have possibly started off as an act that you performed when you had absolutely no option of having someone else click you has fast turned into a cultural point.

 2013: The year of the selfie

Everyone's doing it (Image credit: Getty images)


That Kardashian lady, Kim, has released a step-by-step guide on how to click a perfect selfie, Oxford Dictionaries has crowned the term Word of the Year for 2013; the selfie has pretty much arrived. According to the folks over at Oxford, the usage of the term selfie has shot up a whopping 17,000 percent since this time last year.

Is it any wonder that the humble act of clicking your own picture has made it so big? After all, all the celebrities in Hollywood and even Bollywood are doing it. Heck, even Pope Francis and Barack Obama wanted a piece of action and clicked selfies, much to the entertainment of social networking websites.

Such was the effect of the Obama selfie that the owner of the Tumblr “Selfies at Funerals” actually called it quits. “Obama has taken a funeral selfie, so our work here is done,” he signed off. In case you were wondering, yes, this is a thing. People put up images of themselves attending funerals. Heck, some even click selfies with the dearly departed too. Crude, but that’s a pop culture marker for you.


Yeah, stop this


It’s not just the west that’s hooked onto the selfie mania but power users of social networking websites in India too are staking their claim on the trend. A Mumbai-based doctor, who goes by the moniker @ScissorTongue on Twitter says that puts his phone camera to good use either at home or in his clinic where he’s most relaxed. He believes that the selfie is fun for both the person who clicks it and the viewers if there’s a back story to it. “People respond to stories, not to the picture,” he says. “They see a bit of themselves in your selfie.”

Megha Ghosh, an Experiential Marketing Professional says that her favourite pose while clicking a selfie is to use the front camera to get a perfect top angle that captures her eyes perfectly. Selfies go beyond being just images for Ghosh too. “I love dressing up and I love documenting moments that make me happy or are ones I don't want to forget…Every time I feel happy about what I wear, to how I look, to the way the eyeliner looks or how I finally have the spectacles in yellow like I wanted, I click a picture of myself and now it's no longer about just that but you feel like it and you click a picture of yourself.” For both @ScissorTongue and Ghosh, a selfie goes beyond being a vain, narcissistic experience and turns into a short story that’s captured in an image.

There’s a huge market here to cater to and app makers, in particular, are sitting up and taking notice. You now have tools and apps that let you take that perfect selfie and share it with your friends and followers. How? There are tools that will help you cover up your zits, acneand patches, especially when the selfie is too close for comfort at times. There’s an app called CamMe that will let you put your camera’s timer to optimal use and click images using gestures. Oh, and how about a whole social network dedicated to selfies?


Just what the world needs. A selfie stick named after Mark Zuckerberg


Pop sensation Justin Bieber has backed an app called Shots of Me that is dedicated to only images clicked with the front camera of your phone. You can’t even choose a pre-existing photo from your gallery since selfies are best taken in the moment. Last, but absolutely not the least, there’s a selfie stick. A device you can mount your camera on and click selfies that look natural has been named after Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, the website that’s been most instrumental in aiding selfies over the years.

Arch rival Twitter too has not been too far behind. To aid celebrities while clicking their own pictures to share with fans, the micro-blogging website has introduced a feature called the Twitter Mirror. It’s essentially going to be a tablet hung around during award ceremonies and high profile events for celebrities to go around clicking their pictures. Once done, they need to approve it and send it to Twitter’s event handles for the world and their fans to see. Vanity has a new name!

Twitter this week also announced a feature for its Android and iOS applications that will allow them to attach images to their Direct Messages. The idea is clear – private messaging is something Twitter is looking at. Will this boost the exchange of fun, spontaneously clicked images that are not hosted on a third-party website like Imgur? Your guess is as good as ours.


The first ever selfie


When we are talking about selfies, however, it is impossible to not tip your hat to the app that gave the trend a much needed push into the limelight – Snapchat. The self destructing, personal messaging application has done to selfies what Orkut did to online friendships in the early 2000s. Snapchat essentially lets you send out an image or a short video, complete with a caption, to your friends. The message – or snap – will automatically destruct itself within 10 seconds and will even inform you if your friend tries to save the image. Sounds like a perfect recipe for racy pictures, doesn’t it? Since users of the app are mainly teenagers and young adults, selfies really come into their own on Snapchat.

The act of clicking your own image is not exactly a new phenomenon. In fact, Robert Cornelius, a very dapper looking man clicked the first selfie back in 1839. A chemist by profession, the Philadelphia man “ran into the frame” even as the camera clicked. Try running into a frame midway through a selfie today and chances are you'll only end up bumping into someone else who's stiking a pose of this sort! Given its immense popularity, is it any surprise why 2013 was the year of selfies?

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