Make us your home page
Instagram

'Selfies,' much-maligned self-portraits, change communication

College student Emma Strub has been known to take pictures of herself 15 to 20 times a day.

Alone or with friends, smiling or making a goofy face. She shares most on photo-messaging app Snapchat, posting others to Instagram, Twitter or tumblr.

She, like so many of her peers, is a master of the smartphone self-portrait — the selfie.

While the selfie is as ancient as MySpace, the snapshots are surging across social media platforms. On Instagram, there are more than 36 million photos tagged selfie, 98 million tagged me and countless others without identifying hashtags. They're particularly popular among teens and tweens.

Depending on whom you ask, selfies are either the latest form of self-expression or narcissism on the rise, society in decline.

Yet the selfie's popularity suggests something beyond frivolous self-aggrandizing. It hints at a growing preference for online conversations that prioritize images over words.

"Our phones have front-facing cameras for a reason. It's to take pictures of ourselves," said Greg Swan, an avid selfie snapper and vice president at public relations firm Weber Shandwick. "...It's definitely a way of expressing yourself and putting yourself in a light that you can control."

Yet that focus on image online, especially among young teens, has some worried about a self-absorbed society. After all, research from Harvard University showed that social media users get a bigger neurochemical buzz from sharing information about themselves than sharing information about others.

While there are plenty of pictures posted with the goal of getting "likes" for a cute outfit or new hairdo, experts say the onslaught of selfies is changing the way we communicate. Why text "I'm happy" when you could post a picture of your smiling face?

"It's a fun way to talk," said Kelly McCloskey, 13, a regular Snapchat user. "It's just kind of cooler because you get what they're saying more."

'Selfies,' much-maligned self-portraits, change communication 09/04/13 [Last modified: Sunday, September 29, 2013 7:07pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Tribune News Service.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Dragon ride in Harry Potter section of Universal closing for new themed ride

    Florida

    Universal Orlando announced Monday that it will close Dragon Challenge for a new "highly themed" Harry Potter ride to open in 2019 — sending wizard fans into a guessing game with hopes for a Floo Powder Network or the maze from the Triwizard Tournament.

    Universal Orlando announced Monday that it will close Dragon Challenge on Sept. 5 for a new "highly themed" Harry Potter ride to open in 2019. The ride, originally the Dueling Dragons roller coaster, was renamed and incorporated into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter when the hugely popular area opened in 2010.
  2. Would you let your company implant a chip in you?

    Working Life

    Would you ask an employee to get a chip implanted in her hand? Sounds invasive and intrusive. But come Aug. 1, one company in Wisconsin will be giving it a try.

    Three Square Market - a developer of software used in vending machines - is offering all of its employees the option to get a microchip implanted between the thumb and forefinger. [Photo from video]
  3. Daniel Lipton resigns as artistic director of Opera Tampa

    Stage

    TAMPA — Daniel Lipton has resigned as artistic director of Opera Tampa, the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts announced.

    Daniel Lipton became the artistic director and conductor of Opera Tampa in 2012. Lipton replaced the opera's only previous director, Anton Coppola, who retired. [Times file (2012)]
  4. Throwback Tampa Bay station 102.9 goes from R&B jams to WFLA-AM's conservative talk

    Blogs

    Talk radio station WFLA-AM (970) began simulcasting on 102.9 FM in the Tampa area this morning. 

    Tampa's 102.9 is going from Throwback Tampa Bay to WFLA-AM's news radio.
  5. Bank of Tampa expanding into Sarasota

    Banking

    TAMPA — The Bank of Tampa is expanding to Sarasota County. It opened a loan office this month in downtown Sarasota at 1858 Ringling Blvd., which will be converted to a full-service branch within the year, the company said in a release Monday.

    The Bank of Tampa is expanding to Sarasota. Charles Murphy, pictured, will lead the Sarasota branch. | [Courtesy of The Bank of Tampa]