S is for Selfie

By Chris Tilbury

The concept of the selfie is fairly self-explanatory, you use a camera to take an image of yourself doing something fun or in an interesting place. You can then send that image to all of your friends to enjoy and compete with in a mindless game of social one-upmanship.

Apps like Snapchat dramatically increased the popularity of the phrase during 2013, reports say that the frequency with which the word was used increased 17,000 percent last year. The dramatic rise of the word led to it being given the prestigious title of “Oxford English Dictionary Word of 2013”.

It even managed to make it into the online version of the OED but wasn’t able to snap up a place in the print copy, though the future looks bright.

A "Healthie"

A “Healthie”

The modern self-portrait craze, which was popularised by users of MySpace and Facebook and became one of Time magazine’s 2012 buzzwords, has evolved into a horrifying weapon of human culture. The genres of “selfie” have been drastically expanded from the dull lows of just taking a photo of yourself into a worldwide phenomena.

New genres have been created overnight by daring and mischievous selfie professionals. The “healthie”, so named for its capture whilst working out in the gym, has seen a dramatic increase in its popularity that will surely increase in line with all those undertaking New Year’s fitness regimes.

Celebrities then got in on the act and all hell broke loose. Ed Balls claimed that the selfie was his new favourite pastime, leaving many calling for the front facing camera on mobile phones around the world to, once again, become defunct.

A "Popeie"

A “Popeie”

What was next to rear its ugly head? Exactly that, the “uglie”. Celebrities and the general public alike took to their phones to take pictures of themselves pulling aesthetically unpleasant faces. The trend was set by Cara Delevingne and Ricky Gervais towards the end of 2013 and quickly took off everywhere.

Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on your opinion of the “selfie”, the phrase appears to have lost some of its popularity in the new year. This is despite seeing a spike in interest during Nelson Mandela’s memorial ceremony which saw Barack Obama, David Cameron and Denmark’s Prime Minister Helle Thorning Schmidt take a selfie in the stands of the FNB stadium in Johannesburg.

It might be down on its luck, but 2014 is sure to see the “selfie” rise like a phoenix from the ashes and return to popularity once more. If not, then maybe it’s time the shutters closed on the photographic movement for good.