Week 4: Selfies Can Be Good Things?

Rettberg’s Seeing Ourselves Through Technology: How We Use Selfies, Blogs, and Wearable Devices to See and Shape Ourselves, really resonates with the idea of identity in the Internet-driven times of today. Self-representation through blogs, tweets, status updates, and selfies permeate within most of our social media lives. Does that mean we are conceited or narcissistic? Are we too self-absorbed to an extent that it can be seen as harmful?

Many criticize the modern trends of self-representation through social media. I’ve had friends who don’t use Twitter because, from their understanding and perspective, it is a media platform that is arrogant in the sense that you are posting unimportant updates on your own life. “What do you even tweet about? Who cares what you’re doing at this particular moment or what happened to you?” Another form of media self-representation that takes a lot of criticism is the selfie, which Retteberg dedicates a whole chapter on.  Taking multiple photos of oneself and posting them on a public forum seems like the ultimate vehicle of vanity or conceit.  Because of such a reputation, as Ratterburg discusses, there is much disdain toward selfie-taking in pop culture, especially among young women who are deemed as the “stereotypical selfie takers”. This “selfie hate,” as Rattberg coins it, is ever-prominent in this society, yet the phenomenon continues to grow.  But why? Is there any good that can come out of all this public sharing of one’s self?

I came across an article on Elite Daily entitled, “Why This Generation’s Obsession with Selfies Isn’t Really a Bad Thing?” and I felt that it was an interesting counterpoint to much of the negative discourse we hear on this subject. It discusses many of the positive points of selfies, including selfies as confidence boosters, ways to save memories, and ways to see change over time (which relates to Rettberg’s discussion on the time-lapse selfie method). In any case, the author tries to spin much of the negative discussion around and find some of the positives that come along with this trend. As Rettberg expresses, this kind of self-representation stems from a history of diary writing and other tools of self-reflection, which don’t come with as negative a connotation as a selfie or status update.

Me, personally, I’m not one to take many selfies on my own to post publicly through social media. Maybe it’s because I haven’t mastered the art of taking them from the right angle with the right lighting or I’m just not comfortable with posting them because of the whole selfie hate that, admittedly, I engage in sometimes. Yet, I have plenty of friends who take selfiesoften and are totally comfortable. I even have one from high school who created a whole separate Instagram account that chronicled one selfie of hers per day for a whole year, as a personal goal to see how much she changed over the course of that much time. Although I may not visually post selfies all the time, I am a frequent Twitter user and I post random happenings of my life on the daily. Different ways of being self-absorbed? To each their own, I guess.


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