Today the word Selfie was named Word of the Year.
Until this morning I did not realise there was such a thing. There is though. This esteemed honour has been awarded by none other than the Oxford English Dictionary to the widely used term for taking a picture of yourself on your smartphone.
There was a time – not that long ago – when viewing photos of yourself was a problematic experience. You first had the embarrassment of handing your camera over to a friend, or even a stranger, and then asking them if they minded taking a snap of you. You insisted it was nothing to do with vanity or self-obsession. You just want a souvenir or memento of the occasion.
You then had to wait a few days until you could get to Boots or another chemist to have your film developed. You would flick through them, sometimes with a friend, feigning interest in a snap of some artefact or landscape, whilst sneaking a quick glance at the only shot you were really interested in…the one of you. You’d pretend that you hadn’t noticed when your friend pointed out that the shot of you was taken when your eyes were shut or that the print was missing half your face.
Digitalisation has pandered to our inner desire to see ourselves on film. By simply leaning back, extending one arm and smiling we can now all use our mobiles to snap away and capture ourselves anywhere, in an instant.
With Selfies, I suppose, the clue is in the name. The pixel revolution brought about by smartphones has liberated photography allowing us to indulge our biggest interest…ourselves.
So, going back to where we started: what does the word Selfie winning word of the year tell us?
As most news programmes suggest, it shows how much social media and the digital revolution have changed and influenced our world. It also illustrates how the same technology has fed, and brought to the fore, the self-obsession that always been within us.