Finding myselfie : reflections on a changing visual language
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A search for the hashtag “selfies” on Instagram brings up over 16 million images uploaded in the last 24 hours. These millions of faces come in all shapes and sizes from all over the world. Each assumes that selfies are a universal visual language enabling direct communication with friends, family and an anonymous sea of internet users. Many social network users post their images to mark personal milestones or while traveling to some of earth’s most beautiful landmarks. What causes these selfie-takers to turn from the fascinating world around them, instead drawn toward a mirror and a focus on themselves? The general conversation of analyzing selfies tends toward polarized views, with many, if not most, viewing selfie-taking as a shallow exercise and a sign of narcissism. What is lacking in such conversations is a more complex understanding of how selfies are used and why they continue to impact daily communications in our increasingly networked world. This report features photos and interviews with selfie-takers at some of the busiest tourist destinations in the world, documenting their behavior and personal reflections on what selfies mean. These are considered along with media articles and some of the latest research from a variety of academic fields to complicate our understanding of this new and rapidly growing social phenomenon and mode of communication.