As I was browsing through the Internet trying to figure out what to do this past weekend in Prague I came across with an event listed on the website www.expats.cz called The World’s Biggest Selfie. The event description was the following: “Head over to Wenceslas Square Sunday at 3pm to participate in what could possibly prove to be the world’s biggest selfie. Organizers are aiming for 1150+ people to smush together for one epic shot.” After reading this I could not help laughing out loud and thinking how silly this whole thing seemed. Yet, it also made me stop and consider how big of a phenomenon selfies have become in contemporary societies.
In 2003 Oxford Dictionaries named selfie the word of the year (the word was officially added to the dictionary on August of that same year). According to the results of a research performed by this entity “the frequency of the word selfie in the English language increased by 17,000% since 2012 to 2013.”
Photo Courtesy of Flickr user Patrick Nygren
Although it is not necessary to have specific applications to take these pictures -in fact, these are often shared on sites like Twitter, Facebook or Instagram-, special apps have emerged for the sole purpose of sharing selfies. For instance, the “Shots” application, currently available to iPhone as well as Android and, which has the distinction of having been supported in part by Justin Bieber, has been exclusively designed to share selfies. In fact, it only allows its users to take pictures with the front camera of their devices; while completely eliminating the option to switch to the rear camera. Also, users can mark your photos as favorites or share them within the network; however, they cannot write down comments, partly to avoid bullying and in order to make the photos the focal point of the application. There are also applications for those who take selfies with the webcams, such as Frontbak.
The whole selfie phenomena has been huge, there is little room for doubt regarding that. However, what makes me curious is why exactly this trend in particular (as opposed to others) became so popular? Why did we eagerly embrace this practice so fast, to the point that it has become a second nature behavior for social media users?