Is a Selfie Soulless?

It has been recently recognised that as the prolific craze of taking Selfies continues, so our chosen preference for capturing a moment has now changed.

On the surface, you may think what difference does this make? Who cares, and in part I do agree, as a Selfie is a very personal thing, but is it? (I am rather interested by the whole psychological process.)

Obviously, it goes without saying the Selfie is important to the person or persons in the photo, but what about other Selfies, containing people who are well known, and what about privacy issues or sneaky Selfies? And I don’t mean rude ones; I mean ones taken without others consent.

I thought the Selfie of the US president, and the Danish and British Prime Minister were brilliant, as well as the one with a multitude of famous people at an awards event.

Everywhere people are taking them. There was a big furore on the Tour de France this year as riders were constantly coming into too close a contact with the public as they tried to get ever closer to take a Selfie as they road past. There was even footage of a woman’s phone being elbowed out of her hand by a rider.

Research suggests that collectively we will take 880 billion photos in 2014 alone. A certain social media site has 28,000 photos uploaded every minute; another has 208,000, so for that social media site alone that is roughly about 6 billion a month sometimes. These numbers are staggering.

The implications for storage of this media and the data throughput are quite astounding but what about longevity? Will all this data be available forever?

I think the whole phenomenon has some interesting implications. An article in the Sunday Times dated 3rd August 2014 raised an interesting point. People now queue for ages outside theatres etcetera for a Selfie with their chosen actor. Actors on the whole now seem quite prepared for this eventuality, as long as they are not taken without their consent. So, what does this affect?

Has the autograph hunter been replaced by the Selfie hunter? What else has changed?

A photo used to be for capturing a moment, the freezing of time, and mostly any photo with anyone else in it correlated personally between all parties involved. It was personal, intimate. Such as a photo of two lovers together, can show the intimacy and the feelings can be seen.

Do you agree in part this has now changed and something has been lost? If you stand next a famous person or celebrity for a photo, at worst you’ll get a grimace and at best you’ll get a forced smile, and maybe even some physical contact. And either of these is only due to their unwritten obligation to be nice. Imagine the reaction of a stranger if you tried the same thing? Does this photo mean anything? No I don’t think it does, it isn’t a moment of intimacy captured in time is it? It is an event, a time-stamp. That’s all.

So….how does this all compare to an autograph and what’s the difference? Is there one?

I guess when you ask someone to sign something, as an autograph, even when you direct what is to be written before it, there is an element of flimsiness to it. It isn’t really real is it?

Yet to me, somehow it holds more credibility than a Selfie ever will but why? Handwriting is a very personal thing, and someone’s signature is always very personal no matter how many times they use it. For one thing, there is always a possibility it could be slightly different; a bit like this piece of work. If I hand-wrote it, it would be more individual. As it is, the font just makes it words on a website; it is the words that are used and their order which makes it personal to me.

Wimbledon Tennis is a wonderful event, steeped in tradition. I really should go one day. At the end of a game it’s always nice to see a gaggle of fans trying to get their chosen player to sign a ball or whatever, and I think this is a smart thing to do. A signature will always be individual, whatever words precede it. Therefore, certain signatures will always hold value.

Now let’s fast forward 20 or 30 years to a generation which holds millions of photos but few autographs. The photos will be a time-stamp of an event, valuable to the person who took them in terms of sentimentality, but with little intimacy and no real intrinsic monetary value. This of course is assuming the photos are still available and compatible with which ever system they are using at the time.

What about an autograph? Still a time-stamp, still valuable in terms of sentimentality, can still be intimate depending upon what else written and as for monetary value, who knows? All your friends will have Selfies, you have an autograph. Which will mean more to you?

I guess I should get out more?

Perhaps I will make the effort to go to Wimbledon next year?

I’ll bring a pen.

Mark Scotchford © 05/08/2014


About markious72

Here I wish to let my strange and vivid imagination and opinions run wild. I do hope you like what you read. I would love to be a writer, I won't pretend otherwise. Although it is only in the last couple of years that I have realised it. I guess if it meant to happen it will. Happy reading, happier writing. :-)
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