Selfie needs to propel itself to highbrow status
By The New Indian Express | Published: 25th November 2013 01:51 AM |
Selfie, the trendy term used for a picture taken of oneself with a hand-held digital camera or camera phone, has been declared the word of the year 2013 by the Oxford Dictionaries. It sprinted past other entries like twerk (a sexually provocative dance), olinguito (small furry mammal found in South America) and bitcoin (form of digital currency) because the Oxford Dictionaries research programme found its usage had increased by an incredible 17,000 per cent in the past year. Oxford states there are several spinoffs of the commonest version: helfie (a picture taken of someone’s own hair), belfie (one’s posterior) and drelfie (drunken self-portrait).
“Social media sites helped to popularise the term, with the hashtag #selfie appearing on the photo-sharing website Flickr as early as 2004, but usage wasn’t widespread until around 2012, when selfie was being used commonly in mainstream media sources,” says OED editorial director Judy Pearsall. The word has a sordid past and even the expository sentence Oxford attaches to “selfie” subtly shames the keen selfie taker: “Occasional selfies are acceptable,” says the dictionary, “but posting a new picture of yourself every day isn’t necessary.”
An acknowledgment by the Oxford Dictionary could be the very thing the selfie needs to propel itself to highbrow status. With adverts of beauty products emphasising image issues and social media championing narcissism with updates, posts, photos taken on vacation and videos taken in the shower—selfie is the ideal tool for the young to tell the world that it indeed revolves around them. If selfie has a hint of selfishness, 2012’s word of the year—omnishambles—was believed to have reflected the Western world’s economic mess. So did the previous year’s word that was actually two words—squeezed middle—since it referred to the middle class “who find themselves financially hard-pressed”.