Selfie ~ a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website (Oxford Dictionaries). Also named as the word of the year in 2013 by Oxford Dictionaries.
Today posting selfies on social media accounts has a direct bearing on our identity or so called perceived identity. Our Identity is constructed out of interactions with people and particularly the people we associate with. The idea that we use other people to mirror our own behavior is eminent and extends to social media. Everyday we are either consciously or subconsciously building our identity, which we can further project through the ample social media sites we are contingent on. The people we associate with and the things we are interested in cause us to like and post certain things. All of which is a reflection of what every one else in our surroundings is doing.
Thus we have the SELFIE. Just like a sort of cultural appropriation, selfies have become the norm, undoubtedly fixed in our technologically driven generation. But while they may be the norm, do people look down on this type of free marketing?
“Posting or exchanging selfies is often dismissed as frivolous and self-absorbed, but the relationship between subjectivity, practice and social use of those images seems to be more complex than this dismissal allows.” (Tiidenberg, & Gomez Cruz, 2015)
The whole notion of self-portraits has in some way existed for centuries, dating back to the 15th century early Renaissance where artists depicted themselves as their subject through drawings, paintings and sculptures. The only distinction is that the phenomenon has progressed with time and technology. With this move has become a type of commercial movement in which, the art of self portraiture has been taken out and we have this new wave of commercially driven people using social media as a form of self promotion.
Personally, I am not one to take /share a selfie. Quite simply I do not have time to find the right lighting/angle for my face to share with the world. Maybe if I had the time….. but probably not ha! However, don’t let my lack of ambition towards them deter you from thinking that they aren’t popular and that people aren’t commodifying off them, cause they are.
Selfies are taken for a few reasons, all of which relate to status, attention, and the rise of the micro celebrity. As suggested by Joshua Gamson, “celebrity culture is increasingly populated by unexceptional people who have become famous and by stars who have been made ordinary” (Evans, 2016).
For example Jay Alvarrez is somewhat of a famous Instagram user, who has accumulated around 3.5 million followers. And while his profile may be aesthetically pleasing with every photo having a common thread of aqua hues, it really is just photos of his face in exotic locations. He is just one who has intentionally reaped the monetary value social media provides, which has become a full time job for some.
Though I was unable to find out exactly how much he earns, I was able to find some more general stats. For example, Instagram is one that users can develop a pretty hefty follower base quite easily, given you know what your doing. On average, if you have hundreds of thousands of followers you can make anywhere between $500 to $5,000 a post and if you have upwards of a million followers, you can get $20,000 to $100,000 a shot (Schaefer, 2015). Crazy! And this has extended to brands, spending more than a $1 billion per year on sponsored Instagram posts; it has become a rapidly developing economy (Schaefer, 2015).
While it is all good and well for some attaining that kind of money, I don’t think the rise of the micro celebrity is necessarily a healthy one. And despite attention being the new currency, it is slightly worrying that people can become all too consumed by the false projections of social media.
Here are some of the best ~ the creations are endless…
Evans, N, 2016, Looking at ourselves’, lecture, Emerging Issues in Media and Communications, University of Wollongong, delivered 9th March.
Schaefer, K, 2015, ‘How Bloggers make money on Instagram’, Harpers Bazaar, viewed 28th March 2016, http://www.harpersbazaar.com/fashion/trends/a10949/how-bloggers-make-money-on-instagram/
Tiidenberg, K & Gomez Cruz, E, 2015, ‘Selfies, Image and the Re-making of the body’ Body and Society, vol.21, no.4 p.78.