The word "selfie" was elected "Word of the Year 2013" by the Oxford English Dictionary, defined as "a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media site."
Along with using your smart phone for communicating or playing games, it is the most popular thing being done on your smartphone.
Earlier this month at the Oscars, Ellen DeGeneres showed the world that the selfie is not just for hip young tech savvy texters and social media types anymore. From Hillary Clinton to Jimmy Kimmel, the provincial NDP to our very own members of the Brandon Chamber of Commerce, everyone is taking selfies.
But is it simply a way to take your own picture in a fun and unique way, or can it be something that can actually lead to bad behaviour?
Apparently the growing trend of selfies is being linked to mental health conditions that focus on a person’s obsession with looks. Addiction to taking selfies is apparently increasingly recognised as a ‘serious problem’ by psychiatrists.
One victim of the selfie taking over his life is 19-year-old Danny Bowman. His selfie addiction spiralled out of control, as he spent upwards of 10 hours a day taking up to 200 pics of himself on his iPhone. He actually required addiction help and therapy to treat his technology addiction. Part of his treatment included taking away his iPhone for intervals of 10 minutes, which increased to 30 minutes and then an hour.
The phenomenon is also encouraging more people to look to plastic surgery, in an effort to take better selfies. But then there are the selfies used for "good."
One online challenge to raise funds for cancer research has gone viral. Called the "no makeup selfie," women are encouraged to post photos of themselves without makeup. Some say it is empowering women and spreading awareness, while others say it hasn’t made much of a charitable impact. But some have been critical of the fresh faced movement.
It was not started by a charity and many of those participating aren’t making any donations or spreading important information about cancer. Judy Lund of the Canadian Cancer Society says she’s proud to be part of the movement but hopes "people don’t forget there’s a call to action with that. Awareness is great but donating $5 is even better."
So good, bad or ugly, the selfie looks like its here to stay. Another positive of the selfies is never having to ask a perfect stranger to take your picture when you’re in front of something awesome while on vacation. It’s now a do-it-yourself project. However there are some places selfies should never be taken:
The driving selfie
Is that the picture you want us to post when we need to build a memoriam on your Facebook page? Seriously, there is no reason to take one while driving. I’ve seen some of people taking one while driving so they can get an accident scene in the background. Google Darwin’s theory you genius. Just don’t do it.
The selfie with someone who needs medical attention
Steve just broke his leg at the baseball game and look at it. LOOK AT IT. WOW. Look at me too! Not classy, not to mention Steve needs some medical attention dude. Do you really need to take a picture with the guy whose leg looks like a pretzel? I know you’re friends might think it’s cool, but the rest of us will think you’re captain narcissist, not to mention captain useless.
The funeral selfie
Prepare to look like Tammy Baker. As in evangelist Jim Baker’s wife. You may need to Google her, but if you do, Google the pictures of her in tears. SNL loved making fun of her display
The sacred selfie
Ground Zero in New York City and the Chernobyl nuclear power plant caused much pain to many people. While having the opportunity to visit such remarkable and sombre places is an amazing opportunity to share in the story, the grief and the healing of such traumatic events, a selfie is not a good idea. Selfies are meant to be fun, goofy, sexy and fun. There is no place for the selfie in spots like this. (However putting a black piece of tape on your teeth and taking a gap toothed selfie in front of the Ed Sullivan theatre where they do the Letterman show, now THAT is a selfie.)
The selfie in front of a homeless or drunk person
This just screams "look how privileged I am." Show some class and respect. If you’re going to take a selfie with a friend who took it upon himself to show you how smart he or she was by drinking everything within reach in your cupboards, followed by using your patio or front porch for a bed, then fine. We see lotsa those. In fact the selfies with forehead writing on the offender are funny. As long as that writing comes off, mister.
The bathroom selfie
We don’t care if you use the clever hashtags #superbowl or #royalflush or #kingonhisthrone or #droppingthekidsatthepool. It’s gross. Don’t do it. Ever. But do enjoy some selfies from this year’s Brandon Chamber of Commerce Dinner last Thursday. To see more, simply visit Twitter, hashtag #BCC131.
MY MISTAKE: My apologies to Kim James, General Manager of Shopper’s Mall. (And weekly reader of my column. Thanks Kim!)
In a recent column suggesting some customer friendly changes to Target, I made an error regarding gift cards. Kim tells us "Target has been accepting Shopper’s Mall Gift Cards since December 2013 and are doing so across the country. Also, in regards to the shopping carts not being allowed into the mall from the Target mall entrance, Target in Brandon does allow some carts into the mall. They will unlock the cart for the customer if it is really necessary to take the cart into the mall. In general, shopping centres across the country do not allow shopping carts through the common areas of the centre. In Brandon we were very unique in that carts have been allowed through the centre since we opened."
JOKE THIS WEEK
I am so sorry Marvin.
I’ve been riddled with guilt and I have to confess. I have been tapping your wife, day and night when you’re not around. I’m not getting it at home, but that’s no excuse. I can no longer live with the guilt and I hope you will accept my sincerest apology with my promise that it won’t happen again.
Marvin, feeling anguished and betrayed, went into his bedroom, grabbed his wife’s belongings and lit them on fire. Destroyed everything. Called his lawyer and filed for divorce, and changed his facebook status "to divorcing the B."
A few moments later, a second text came in:
Damn autocorrect. I meant "wifi," not "wife."
Apryl Dawn Larson
Sarah Van Renselaar
Tarralean Turner Moulson
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition March 29, 2014