Selfie: "a photograph that one has taken of oneself..
and shared via social media.".
The Oxford Dictionary
The action of taking selfies has become more and more a ritual that is taking its own space in recording the present and shaping our memories. But there is obviously what seems to be a more impacting implication: it's shaping our persona. Whether it's virtual or physical it doesn't matter: it's in any way real. I'm fully aware of the procedure of accumulating, selecting, deleting, choosing, doubting, editing and finally sharing that is far from simply taking a picture of yourself and sharing that on social media.
Where's the curation in that definition? Is a selfie just a digital photograph in a social media frame?
Nancy K. Baym, on the special Issue on selfies of the International Journal of Communication, notes that: "First and foremost, a selfie is a photographic object that initiates the transmission of human feeling in the form of a relationship." That relationship might be intimate, or very public. Your memories, even when kept private, are thought and shaped not only in order to be archived but as if they were meant to be shared. This is impacting the way we are experiencing intimacy because we're constantly watched by ourselves.
As John Berger famously said:
“A woman must continually watch herself. She is almost continually accompanied by her own image of herself. Whilst she is walking across a room or whilst she is weeping at the death of her father, she can scarcely avoid envisaging herself walking or weeping. From earliest childhood she has been taught and persuaded to survey herself continually. (...) She has to survey everything she is and everything she does because how she appears to men, is of crucial importance for what is normally thought of as the success of her life (...)
Women watch themselves being looked at. This determines not only most relations between men and women but also the relation of women to themselves. (...) Thus she turns herself into an object -- and most particularly an object of vision: a sight.”
This constant mirroring and recording is now about all of us. I'm not going to say that are no differences anymore between the objectification of the female image and others but the exhausting and constant curse of watching ourselves living life is putting us under never-ending pressure. I once heard that a bad picture is a bad memory. The problem is, that the self-surveillance is becoming an attitude rather a procedure limited in time.
Daniel Rubenstein in his essay Keeping up with the Cartesians: on the culture of the selfie with continual reference to Kim Kardashian (Public, Private, Secret - On Photography & the Configuration of the Self, curated by Charlotte Cotton ) states that selfies remind us that we have the duty not only to record and represent the world, but also to actively engage with it by connecting and sharing with other human beings. The selfie fractured the shell of modern individuality that is founded on the false certainty of the body-image dualism: an image is not a body, and a body is not an image.
He also defines Selfies as a feedback loop. To me, it's not anymore about a picture of yourself taken by yourself, it's about the mirroring and reflecting of yourself that is by your side regardless of your smartphone.