The Sydney siege selfies received a massive online backlash, questioning the appropriateness of people taking selfies in inappropriate situations or locations.
With the growth of smart phones and prolific use of picture-based social media, the selfie has become almost an overnight phenomenon that has taken the world by storm. The term was named by Oxford Dictionaries as word of 2013. However, the general consensus is that many have gone over a red line in terms of what kinds of selfies are being posted online and that despite technological advances, there should still be a level of appropriateness that must be upheld. For example, funeral selfies have become a trend and exacerbated further by the Cameron/Schmidt/Obama selfie during Nelson Mandela’s funeral, which definitely put to question their level of taste and decency.
Those who own a camera would have taken a selfie at some point. There are different psychological explanations that relate to the kinds of selfies that are being taken. Most amateur psychologists would say that the selfie is a product of vanity and a way of filling a void within someone, so taking a selfie and posting them online is a form of social validation. Also, the desire to share in real time means an erosion of people’s ability of actually being able to be truly present. Dr Aaron Balick at this year’s Social Media Week London said that people should use the technology and not let the technology use you.
Social Media Week London also featured a selfie school in which session leader and renowned mobile phone photographer Oliver Lang helped attendees see how selfies can have a greater value on social media with the right context and composition. There are no set rules or etiquette when taking selfies but the biggest tips were to think about the followers and how these selfies (and photographs in general) can inspire and inform.