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What is a Selfie?

Exploring the 'Selfie' Trend


Woman taking a selfie
Betsie Van Der Meer/Taxi/Getty Images

Social media and the mobile web has given rise to a strange phenomenon called the selfie. But not everyone is familiar with the term, so here’s a brief definition.

Selfie: A picture of yourself, usually shared on any social networking website.

That’s it, really. But there’s so much more meaning behind why we do it, and why it’s become such a massive trend.

Who Takes Selfies?

Everyone takes selfies, but the younger crowd seems to be especially involved in the trend – mainly because teens and the 18 to 34 demographic are heavier digital users than their older counterparts.

Some selfies are extreme close-ups, others show part of an arm held straight outward and a few of the great ones even feature the subject standing in front of a bathroom mirror so that they can get a full body shot of their reflection. There are lots of selfie styles, and these are some of the most common.

Since social media is the driving force of most selfie activity, younger kids interested in staying connected to their friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, crushes or colleages are more active in sharing selfies on a regular basis.

Why Do People Take Selfies?

Who knows what kind of psychological factors drive any specific person to take a selfie and upload it to a social networking site. Everyone’s own situation is different, but here are some of the most common theories:

To get attention from as many people as possible: People like to get noticed on social media, and all of those “likes” and comments from friends are a quick and easy way to fish for compliments and boost one’s own ego.

To get a self-esteem boost: Here’s another reason why young people might be the leading demographic that’s part of the selfie trend. Not only are they plugged into the web at all times, but they also have more self-esteem issues – and many of these teens or college kids might upload selfies to deal with their own self-consciousness.

To show off: It’s human nature to want to show off your own great achievements. When you feel good about yourself (or look good), it’s far too easy to reach for your phone and document it all through one (or several) selfies.

To get a specific person’s attention: Kids who are connected on a social network to someone they admire may be more driven to upload attractive or alluring selfies as a way to seek attention, especially if they’re too shy to do it in person. It’s a strange new flirting method that’s only been around since the rise of mobile, but it’s definitely there.

Boredom: Hey, there are people who are bored at work, bored at school, bored at home and bored on the toilet. That’s right. Some people will take selfies because they have nothing else better to do.

Because social media is fun: Last but not least, social media is about being social! If that means uploading as many selfies as possible, then so be it. Some people don’t need a real reason to do it. They just do it because they like to do it, it’s fun, and it’s a cool way to sort of document your own life.

Selfie Apps, Filters and Mobile Social Networks

We all have the front-facing camera to thank for the amount of selfies the web sees nowadays. Here are some of the most popular tools people use for their selfies.

Instagram: Instagram is a social photo sharing network based purely on mobile devices. It has a lot of great filters you can use to make your selfies look instantly aged, artsy or highlighted. Instagram and selfies go hand in hand.

Snapchat: Snapchat is a mobile messaging platform that allows users to chat using photos or videos, so it’s main activity basically relies on selfies. Messages self-destruct a few minutes aft they’re opened by the recipient, so the goal is basically to take as many selfies as possible to keep the messages going.

Facebook: Last but not least, the Internet’s biggest social network is also a place for selfies. Maybe not as much as Instagram or Snapchat, but having access to Facebook via the mobile apps (or the Facebook Camera app) sure does make it easy to post them there for all your friends to see.

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