The history of “Selfies”

A “Selfie” has gradually become a commonly known phenomenon. By 2013 the word “Selfie” has become commonplace enough to get its place in Oxford English Dictionary’s online version, and they even appoint it the word of the year by the end of November 2013. Even the Selfie stick has had a great success, at it was listed in Time Magazine’s 25 best inventions of 2014.

But what is the history of Selfies?

The selfie-phenomenon has always been closely associated to the social medias. Although the term “Selfie” already did appear on the internet for the first time back in 2002, it wasn’t until almost 10 years after that the term began to become commonly used throughout the world.

The first use of the word “selfie” is tracked to be by a young Australian guy in an online internet forum. He used the word, as he posted a photography of himself and his beat-up face, after he had fallen and hurt himself at a friend’s birthday party. In the accompanying text he shortly describes his injuries and ends it with the following sentence, in which he explains, why the quality of his photo is not that good: “And sorry about the focus, it was a selfie”.

In 2004 a group called “Selfy” was established on the social photo network Flickr, with the intention of creating a room for people to share their digital self-portraits. Also the social video network MySpace was highly known as a place, where people saw their opportunity to share photos of themselves. Especially in the early 2000’s, before Facebook became as dominant among the social medias, MySpace littered with low quality self-taken photos. This led to the site delivering the first definition of the term “selfie” to the Urban Dictionary in 2005: “Self portrait of yourself usually by teen girls”.

As Facebook gradually became more popular than MySpace, in the years between 2006 and 2009, the traditional “MySpace pic” (which was characterized as a picture of bad quality and often taken into a mirror) started to be replaced by a new sort of selfies. These selfies, which were uploaded on Facebook, differed from the traditional ones on MySpace, as they were often way more formal and focused.

Along with Facebooks increasing popularity, new technological developments showed up on the big market. One of the most epochal developments when it comes to the breakthrough of selfies, is the front-facing camera on mobile phones. This camera provides its users with the opportunity to take pictures of themselves, while having the possibility to control their appearance, as they are constantly able to see how the picture is going to turn out on their screen.

Although selfies might have started out as a phenomenon that was primarily known and used among teenagers, it is certainly not delimited in such way any longer. In our modern society the practice of snapping (as we see on snapchat) pictures of oneself has been a widely spread phenomenon. People of all ages, with all kinds of jobs are happy to shares pictures of themselves on the social medias.

A good example on a selfie that took the world by storm, was the “Oscar selfie” that Ellen DeGeneres shared on Twitter during the annual Oscar’s in 2014. The Selfie featured Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Lupita Nyong’o, Kevin Spacey and Jared Leto, and with no less than 750.000 retweets within 45 minutes, the selfie quickly topped the list and became the most retweeted picture so far.

But what is it that makes us want to share pictures of ourselves on the social medias? Nowadays, the social medias have a remarkably huge influence, as it has become an integrated part of the modern human’s everyday life. As a result, interaction on the social medias has become highly important for most people, as the social medias has become a mouthpiece to speak out one’s opinion. Besides that, the modern human has a need to share their experiences and gains in life, as we live in a world where the focus on appearance and success is bigger than ever.
For that reason, it has become extremely popular to share selfies online and as a result, celebrities, journalists, businessmen and even politicians do no longer seem to be able to attend anything exiting, without remembering to share a selfie with the world.

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