By Carolyn Fergus
A search on the mobile application Instagram for the hashtag #SelfieNation yields a little over 600,000 results. A search for its sister hashtag, #SelfieSunday, yields almost 5 million.
Originally thought of as a conceited ploy for attention, the selfie or self-taken picture is enjoying a recent upswing in popularity. Members of the #SelfieNation—which includes everyone from teenage girls to middle-aged men—do not see the posting of such pictures as conceited. Rather, posters see selfies as a way of proclaiming their unashamed individuality and self-confidence.
KU students are in on the trend. Kristen Slack, a 23-year old professional writing major and proud user of selfies, said “I think selfies are one way to demonstrate creativity.”
She adds that “they’re fun.”
Slack’s enthusiasm is shared by Joe Dyas, a 22-year old sport management major.
While Dyas says he does not personally post selfies, he said, “ It should be more accepted, especially in a cultural era in which we are encouraging ‘millennials’ to be [themselves] and highlight their individualities. If people like the way they look or are proud of themselves, we shouldn’t fully discourage it.”
Not all KU students agree with Slack and Dyas, however.
John Merlino, a 21-year old anthropology major, wonders “where does [the need to post selfies] come from? It’s narcissistic.”
Elspeth Huyett, a 22-year old business major, agrees, adding that she thinks “people should make more of an effort to be in the moment than to show how great they look in the moment.”
Mike Callahan, an 18-year-old accounting major, said he often gets the feeling people are trying to “impress” others with their pictures.
Whether people like them or not, selfies are everywhere right now. Celebrities take selfies and post them to social media to give fans an inside look at their lives. Museums such as the Moving Contemporary Art Fair in London are showcasing #SelfieArt submitted by selfie posters. The Oxford English Dictionary has even named selfie its 2013 Word of the Year.
Sarah Schwab, a 23-year old publicity manager from Philadelphia, says that she encourages her clients to take and post selfies to their accounts.
“It keeps them current,” she said, adding that the pictures garner more “likes” from the 18-24 age bracket than any other demographic.