Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Selfie Ergo Sum

O.K. I'm still obsessed with selfies at the moment, even though the first usage is reported as early as 2002.  I looked up some definitions:

Merriam – Webster    self·ie   noun \ˈsel-fē\  An image of oneself taken by oneself using a digital camera especially for posting on social networks

Oxford English Dictionary   Syllabification: sel·fie   Pronunciation: /ˈselfē  (also selfy)   NOUN (plural selfies)   informal  A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and shared via social mediaoccasional selfies are acceptable, but posting a new picture of yourself everyday isn’t necessary

Dictionary.com    selfie   [sel-fee] Spell Syllables   noun, Informal.  A photograph that one takes of oneself with a digital camera or a front-facing smartphone, tablet, or webcam, especially for posting on a social-networking or photo-sharing website.

There are lots floating around on the web, even lots of articles like: The 29 Greatest Selfies Of All Time from the Huffingto Post.

Hashtag fundraising is something which has become hugely prevalent in the last few months. This new popular method of fundraising seems to offer the holy trinity of selfiedom. exposure, cachet and self congratulation. In our increasingly media conscious lives, it is hard to feel meaningful. 

Probably the most famous was #icebucketchallenge. From home movies (home videos?) to Bill Gates well produced video,  according to the BBC over 2.4 million ice bucket-related videos were posted on Facebook. Did that really translate into money for the charity? Yes and No. The money did go up for many charitable organisations. Pre-ice bucket, the MND Association was receiving about £200,000 a week in donations while between 22-29 August, it received £2.7m. The danger is that people may feel "done" and if the charity doesn't come up with something else as "fun," it may lose supporters very quickly.

The success of the ice bucket challenge was entirely different to that of #nomakeupselfie. It's viral nature was a result of its nomination capacity. Those completing the challenge asked  friends to follow suit within 24 hours, and thus Facebook newsfeeds were taken over by the videos, with a better than average chance of nomination for everyone.

William MacAskill, founder of 80,000 Hours, publicly came out against the ice bucket challenge stating, "The challenge gives you a way to very publicly demonstrate your altruism via a painful task, despite actually accomplishing very little (on average, not including those who don't donate at all, a $40 gift, or 0.07% of the average American household's income): it's geared up to make you feel as good about your actions as possible, rather than to ensure that your actions do as much good as possible."

Ultimately only time will tell if #hashtagfundraising increases our propensity to give and to generate more selfies, or just allows us to feel better while doing less.

Getting to the art part of it...my friend during at the San Francisco Art Institute and a great phitographer, Adal Maldinado, has been doing elegant and interesting takes on the selfie. These next images are from his book of self-portraits, "I Was A Squizophrenic Mambo Dancer for the FBI" by Pull Press, NY, 1990-2006

You can see more at http://www.adalmindfictions.com/#!auto-portraits   But what I like the best are some of his very recent ones from work called "GO F_CK YOUR Selfie." It's on Facebook now along with fans who have submitted their own selfies in response.  

Hmmm, groups, responses, charity, art and more— doesn't sound so selfie to me.

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