There was a time when what we now call a “selfie” was cute, sweet, fun, memorable, and even unpredictable. Contrary to popular belief, the selfie was not invented when our phones got cameras. They have been around for a long time, just by other names.
Let’s go back to days of Polaroid’s, 35 mm, and 110 film. Even in the days of film we took selfies. It was how you documented a vacation that you were on but didn’t have anyone to take the picture, or it was you hanging out with your friends wanting a picture of all of you together, or you are at a party and want to capture the moment with your friends. The part that made them fun and unpredictable was that you never really knew how the picture was going to come out until the film was developed. Sometimes you would be smiling, sometimes making a funny face, sometimes your hair would be messed up, sometimes your head would be cut off or a person partially cut out of the picture. They were impromptu and sincere while today’s selfies are ego-centric and fake.
Now we have to pull out our front-face camera to see how we look…is our makeup perfect? How about our hair? Oh you need to check, here use my phone. Ok great, now that we know we look perfect are we going to do a duck face, frog face, sparrow face, horse face, teacup face, or should we do fish lips, make our neck disappear, or go old fashioned and just plain smile? Well we can’t just take one! Ok let’s look at them, “OH MY look at me, I look awful.” We have to do it again. Do you think I am over exaggerating this? Have you seen the video #Selfie by The Chain Smokers? Or just watched almost any person who is about to take a selfie. And here is an article that offers tips about how to take better selfies.
Is there a line that we shouldn’t cross? If so where is it? Have you noticed that taking selfies while driving is popular, why? Did you know that people are even dying from taking selfies irresponsibly, I know that won’t happen to you.
In this digital era, we have been convinced or have convinced ourselves that our friends and family want to see us in every picture that we take. Maybe your mom does, but I doubt that few other people really want to see that many self-taken-self-absorbed pictures of you. Also, what about basic human interaction, those few minutes of meeting someone new when you ask them to take a picture. You know it is going to come out better…imagine that, in-person social interaction and a better picture of you!
What about selfies in the business world? For speakers, it has even become acceptable to pull out your phone and say “Wait, let me take a selfie. Wave to the camera.” Really?!? What happened to building your brand and making your message about them, not you? I know it is all about building your personal brand, but there is a difference between talking about it and living it. Obsessive selfie taking doesn’t prove that you are living your brand, in fact it sends the opposite message, that you need the approval of others to justify your life.
Today’s consumers are connected like no other generation before. Brands are now extensions of who we are. We choose to buy brands not just for their features and benefits, but for the shared values that we have with the brand. The brands we choose play a part in representing who we are as an individual. We are a sum of the brands we chose to purchase. So I challenge you to think before you take that next selfie…are you an “It’s all about me brand” or “it’s all about them brand?”