Tag Archives: the selfie illusion

Week 5: The Selfie Illusion

In danah boyd’s blog post on “Super Publics,” boyd discusses the altered state of publics – what publics look like when they are infused with the features of digital architectures” and “about what it means to speak for all time and space, to audiences you cannot conceptualize.” Many selfie-takers are hyperaware of this extreme form of the public, and increasingly not only take selfies to remind themselves of a specific moment in time, but also to communicate with this super public about their existence. Perhaps this is the reason that according to selfiecity, more females than males take more photos of themselves—to illustrate to the world and themselves their existence, which has been historically ignored in a number of patriarchal societies. At the same time, this could also be the reason for the larger about of selfies posted by women—as these women could be performing for the presumably male gaze. Neither of these claims can be proven unless we ask the selfie-takers themselves, but it is clear than not only women are the ones who feel the need to perform for the super public.

Danny Bowman, a nineteen year old, would spend up to 10 hours a day taking up to 200 snaps of himself on his iPhone. According to the writer Alicia Eler:

In a story of isolation and fear in the digital age, this young boy became completely addicted to snapping and posting selfies. His life was ruled by clicks and likes; in a sense, the internet was his mirror, until, after overdosing on pills and being saved by his mother, he realized that he was more than just his selfie. “Gradually I realised everyone wasn’t looking at me. I didn’t need to check my appearance the whole time,” he told the Daily Mirror.

While this is an extreme case of selfie-taking, it is clear that Bowman was constantly aware of the super public as a source of validation, so much so it consumed his life. However, what he did not realize was that selfies only as an illusion—not as proof of existence, and that the user should be in control of the selfie—not the other way around.