Sometimes it takes the official line in what is acceptable language and what not a while to catch up. We’ve been using the word Selfies for quite a while, self-made photographs taken, usually with a Smart Phone, of ourselves somewhere interesting. Now the word has been added to the Oxford English Dictionary and is officially recognized the world over.
Photo Credit: Brian Wilkins – Creative Commons
Of course, it has been accepted into other dictionaries long ago, but the addition to the Oxford English Dictionary is, perhaps, something of a milestone. And with it comes the chance for people to comment officially on the Art of Self-Shots as they see fit, without having to put inverted commas around the word. And, of course, make fun of what they find.
Because the Selfie is more than just a picture of the person, it has become a statement about the person as well as a record of what they are doing, what they can see, a proof, if you will, that they were there.
Photo Credit: Lotus Carroll – Creative Commons
And it is this new form, what a person is doing, which brings real interest with it, as well as some strange words of condemnation. Is there, for example, an inappropriate place where a Selfie can be shot? Is it a bad thing to take a photograph inside a submarine, in Auschwitz or in front of a nuclear plant? Aren’t they also photographic memories of where we have been, also proof that we really were there?
The standard Selfie is a head and shoulders shot, usually uploaded to some social networking platform such as Facebook. It says something about the person taking the shot, but not much more. Why not add a bit of scenery, a little background to the whole? Is a Selfie in Auschwitz more prone to condemnation that a photograph of this historical site without people included?
Fine, there are limits. Taking a Selfie next to the remains of your grandmother – either newly deceased in a hospital bed or lying in her coffin – is perhaps not quite the sort of Selfie anyone would wish to have as a memory. I am sure there must be far better memories of the dearly departed than an image of them still as a still warm corpse. That said, images of the dead are hardly uncommon: there was once a trend to take photographs of the recently departed dressed up as if they were still alive and keep this image as a final memento. But Selfies taken in some historical location? Is it really denigrating Anne Frank to take a photograph of yourself reflected in the windows of her house?
- Viktoria Michaelis.