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Selfies: All you need to know


130811_michelle_bo_obama_ap_605America’s First Lady Michelle Obama has done it. So has Pope Francis, international space station astronaut Aki Hoshide (in space, no less) and Hollywood legend Meryl Streep. We are taking about clicking a ‘selfie’ – a self-portrait taken to upload on social media.
Not only have selfies become a familiar sight on photo-sharing websites like Instagram and microblogging sites like Twitter, Oxford Dictionaries has proclaimed it the ‘word of the year for 2013’!

Although the dictionary formally defines a ‘selfie’ as “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically with a smartphone or webcam, and uploaded to a social media website, it could also describe our self-absorption with the social media – the need to put up our ‘status’ , ‘state of mind’ or self-taken and self-edited pictures in the virtual space. Says image consultant Nidhi Sharma, “Showcasing a slice of life has become so natural that we don’t feel we are actually experiencing anything, unless one or many of our virtual ‘friends’ acknowledge it.”

How it started
For a decade, the word went mostly unnoticed by the world… until 2012. All of a sudden, ‘selfie’ became a buzzword online as people happily posted self-shot pictures onto their social networking profiles. By August 2013, Oxford Dictionaries stoked the fire of lingual infamy by giving it a place in the respected dictionary, adjudging it as a real English language word. The justification ? Language research revealed that the frequency of the word in the English language has increased by 17,000 per cent since this time last year. For instance , on Instagram alone, there are 57 million photos with the hashtag #selfie.

Rise of Gen-Selfie
Selfie has come to represent the current generation that thrives on technology and extreme self-love. Explains Sharma, “The selfie is a direct by-product of the ‘me’ generation. We are increasingly living in a digital world, which connects us with the outside world at the click of a button, but it also isolates us.

Smartphones coupled with social media have given us a platform to express ourselves, but also to create a self-image that is much larger than life.” The Selfie Generation faces today’s complicated world by withdrawing into a virtual bubble of instant approval. Young people upload selfies often to seek approval and gain compliments on their appearance.

There are even smartphone apps created specially to retouch and transform a regular selfie into a glamorous shot. “People create virtual identities, which are an extension of the kind of person they wish to be rather than what they truly are. Selfies, most of the time, contribute to this false image,” says clinical psychologist Dr. Anjali Chhabria.

We share our pictures for confirmation that we exist, seek comfort in ‘friends’ we never meet. In the process of trying to impress them, we ignore people who take time out of their busy schedules to be with us.
It’s an indirect indication that people rely on praise from others to boost their self-confidence . Says image consultant Sheena Agarwal, “One expects the maximum number of ‘likes’ and comments , and if that expectation is not met, it is a blow to one’s self-esteem .” Anything that starts taking over an individual is detrimental . Take, for instance, the September 2013 report of how a large number of Hong Kong Marathon runners crossed the finish line with scrapes and bruises they got colliding with selfie-takers among them.

The other view
But as self-absorbed as this generation may be, a selfie may not always be bad, say some. “A selfie portrays the love you feel for yourself. It is a tool for empowerment. We click selfies because we now can record our moments of self-belief ,” says Agarwal.

In fact, in a study conducted on why people take selfies, cultural and social media experts from Western Australia’s Curtin University, found that the reasons were less about vanity, and more about seeking reassurance and making personal statements. The Aussie survey found the most popular moments for clicking selfies are holidays and social events.
“We all want people to say positive things about us. Other times, it’s much more a kind of statement about ‘where I’ve been and what I’m doing’,” cultural studies expert Jon Stratton was quoted as saying.
A selfie does capture our private (and public) moments that would otherwise get lost in time. It helps us share experiences visually, in this extremely visual-oriented world. It helps us connect. It also helps people lose inhibitions in the way it encourages people to ‘share’ experiences easily, in an instant, without any lengthy dialogue.
But the larger question is, can everyone handle losing themselves in the virtual bubble?

Selfie etiquette
Don’t be overly dependent on the praise you get from selfies to build your sense of self, as there is a fine line between confidence and over-confidence.

* Be careful to keep the picture uploads in check so that it does not become such an obsession that you upload selfies multiple times a day in order to get a reaction.

* These platforms are used by millions all over the world, and there is a chance of pictures being misused. Make sure your social media profile is set to private, so that only friends and family have access to your photo uploads.

Source : http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/tech/personal-tech/computing/Selfies-All-you-need-to-know/articleshow/27077635.cms



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