astronaut selfie
Oscar Wilde once wrote that learning “to love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.” And we in modern, western culture have taken this concept to heart with the development of social media. Sure, social media is a great way to connect with old friends, flirt with new ones, and post photos of kittens doing all sorts of adorable things.

But more than that, social media allows us to fulfill Toby Keith’s greatest dream. Just in case you’re not from Idaho – and probably 99.999% of you are not – I’m talking about the immortal lyrics of his song “I wanna talk about me.” Social media lets us demonstrate to you all just how awesome we truly are on a frequent basis. Now if only there was a medium that could not only capture how truly spectacular we are, but also allow us to share instantly. Every moment counts; every moment must be captured or else they will fly away like a beautiful butterfly on the rays of the sun.

Enter the digital age and the Iphone. The world is saved.

The seflie craze has captured the imagination of a world. Now the world is able to experience the spectacularness that is us at an arm’s length. At any given moment the world now has access to our masterfully doctored facial images (These images sometimes include kissy-face, selfie-buddies, photobombs, and the occasional backdrop – but who cares about the Grand Canyon or Eiffel Tower when my head rightly takes up most of the shot?).  Notable recent members of the Selfie Club include: Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, Hilary Clinton, Michelle Obama, The Biebs, pretty much every junior high and high school girl across the world, and even Pope Francis.

This selfie movement has gone so far as to be named Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year of 2013. Past renowned winners of this highly prestigious award include catchwords and phrases like: Not!, Y2K, WMB, metrosexual, tweet, app, information superhighway, plutoed, and truthiness.

To win an award befitting such a prestigious institution as Oxford, the origin of the word selfie must be profound indeed. After all this is the country of William Shakespeare, the man who coined over 3,000 new words in his own right. And I believe Master Shakespeare would feel good to know the origin of this phrase does at least come from an Aussie. Research by Oxford Dictionary allows us to see this brilliant moment of selfie’s first emergence onto the word scene. Like a proud parent watching its child take their first steps, let’s observer this serendipitous moment of creation:

2002 ABC Online (forum posting) 13 Sept.
“Um, drunk at a mates 21st, I tripped ofer [sic] and landed lip first (with front teeth coming a very close second) on a set of steps. I had a hole about 1cm long right through my bottom lip. And sorry about the focus, it was a selfie.”

Brilliant, is it not? Another moment in history irrevocably changed by the influence of alcohol. As I pondered the effect of this one simple moment, a few more moments in history came to mind. Here are but a few events that could have been enhanced by the presence of a digital camera and an intense desire to share at an arm’s length:

George Washington crossing the Delaware: Hope it didn’t fall in the river; the army didn’t have rice yet.

The Fall of the Berlin Wall: Nothing says “let’s be friends” quite like a great photobomb opp.

Einstein’s discovery of Law of Relativity: The kind of face only a selfie could love.

The Signing of the Declaration of Independence: John Hancock? The largest selfie EVER.

Neil Armstrong on the Moon: One small click for man; one giant click for mankind.

Battle of the 300: Those abs just cry out for an epic mirror selfie.

According to a survey done in the UK, 50% of people have selfied at one point, with this percentage jumping to 75% in the 18 to 24 age range. This overflow of selfieness produces over 35 million new social media images each month.

So if we are looking to romance ourselves like Oscar Wilde says, then it’s clear what we must do. Selfie early; selfie often. The world can’t wait a single second longer to see your face.  Be the selfie you want to see in the world. We can do this thing together! But alone…cause that’s usually what a selfie is.

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