The Return of the Selfie to BC
Published: Sunday, September 30, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
The nice thing about the Features section is that there is a lot of freedom when it comes to writing articles and columns. As one fellow editor affectionately referred to this section as “Fun News,” I don’t think that that’s an entirely inaccurate description of what we cover. Therefore, I’m going to take the liberty of using my weekly Editor’s Column to remark on something that’s come to my attention lately, and, in my opinion, is taking Boston College by storm.
Can anyone remember back two years ago when the best punch line to any joke, the worst insult to throw onto someone, and the most effective way to deplete everyone of respect for you was to take a selfie? Let’s be honest, selfies were completely confined to the realm of middle school bathroom mirrors, with tiny over-made up girls in soffi shorts and wife beaters or camis, most often throwing up the deuces or reverting to the seemingly sassy “fish face” pose. Yes, I’m sure we all took this picture at least once, only as a mockery of those that actually took them seriously and posted them on Facebook, of course. We were all too dignified and had too much self-respect to bring ourselves down to this demeaning level of the selfie, and God forbid you were actually the person awkwardly holding the camera behind and above the group in the mirror and then posting it online. These selfies were equated with MySpace and those kids who actually met people and made “friends” online. My point is that about two years ago, it was a fairly well-established fact that selfies were tacky and undignified—a great way to make fun of someone, but nothing more.
Then something changed. This slow shift in the societal views of selfies can probably be traced to correlate pretty well with what can be termed the final switch from Blackberries to iPhones. In the past two years, the majority of BC students have made the switch from BBM-ing to iMessaging, and with that shift came the wonderful world of the dual-sided camera phone. Iphones have made it possible to not only take alarmingly clear photos with our cellphones (let’s be honest, they’re significantly better than those pictures we were getting from our Razrs in middle school), but to switch the camera’s view to focus on the same direction as the screen. This afforded us the ability to, at first, more accurately make fun of those middle school bathroom mirror girls. We rationalized it to ourselves that we were only doing it as a mockery, because we are NOT those girls, but the ability to see yourself doing it made you slightly more aware of how you looked in those photos. Yes, I understand some people have no vanity whatsoever and don’t care what photos of themselves look like, but most of us do care, at least a little, and by seeing ourselves as the picture was taken, we were afforded a little bit of power over how we looked in the picture. Although we would never admit it at the time, it served the same role as the bathroom mirror.
So, at this point: we still weren’t necessarily admitting we were taking selfies, posting on Facebook or any social media was in the back of our minds, but few of us had the guts to actually do it. Then someone discovered SnapChat. This application, for those who are unfamiliar with it, is essentially a method of sending selfies that have a timer and are deleted from the receivers phone after a certain number of seconds. This opened the floodgates, allowing pictures to be taken with the assurance they would soon be deleted removed much of the vanity from the selfie, and thus it spread to the masses. People can be seen taking selfies more than ever before, on the walk to class, on the T, in the library, in a waiting room, everywhere. Though no one will really acknowledge it, the selfie is no longer the bane of cellphone existence. In fact, it’s kind of cool now, and really fun.